Alexander Nikolov: Detailed talks on the plans of the American TPPs after the expiration of the long-term contracts are forthcoming

We will move towards nuclear energy, but we will not build small modular reactors. For now.

Energy / Bulgaria
3E news
article picture alt description

"We also talked about liquefied gas and the nuclear power plant. For energy security, diversification, development opportunities in Bulgaria, for the investment climate in the context of the energy transition, etc.” This was stated in the program "Speak Now" on BNT by the Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov on the occasion of the visit of the Bulgarian government delegation to the United States. "The main goal of the meeting was to open doors that have been closed for a long time," he added.

"I don't know why there is such a dose of conspiracy, which is thought to be hiding something," the Minister said in response to earlier criticism from MRF MP Ramadan Atalay that he had no vision for energy development.

Related news

The vision

"Of course I am aware of energy policy. It communicates at the government level. Whether we should have announced the entire program to the parliament publicly, I think the answer is also clear," Nikolov said.

Regarding the visit to the United States, he explained that the main goal was to represent the country to "a partner with great potential and high technological development". According to him, there was "nothing biased" in this visit.

Regarding the issue of suspending gas supplies and the possibility of LNG supplies to Bulgaria, the Minister said that "some of the topics were related to liquefied natural gas and what the map looks like, especially in the Western Balkans and Bulgaria's role in it." "At the moment I can say that the talks are very productive and are mostly related to long-term initiatives not so much to crisis management. In this context, and rather whether they can help, even the technological specifics of liquefied gas itself are difficult to react as quickly as possible, but it is not impossible, "he added. In this regard, the Minister explained that the potential conflict (Russia-Ukraine) was also a topic of discussion. According to him, this conflict has also put on the agenda "Europe's dependence on Russia on a larger scale at the moment and accordingly brought to the fore the need for real diversification." From this point of view, Nikolov commented that the energy mix must change "and the energy security of Europe in general and Bulgaria in particular to change."

Regarding the proposals of the American country closer in time, the Minister of Energy stressed that what will happen is "rather assistance at the level of commercial companies related to the implementation of plans and projects in the Recovery and Sustainability Plan , on the green transition".

About American TPPs

In particular, as the Minister explained, the question is more about how and whether this transition will happen for the two American power plants in the Maritza East complex and whether they will switch to gas. In this sense, he explained that "The Recovery and Sustainability Plan is more about creating separate projects that contribute to a smoother and more sustainable transition. This does not mean that the lack of a project in the plan excludes it and accordingly puts it in the energy mix as such. In addition, two of the three plants in the Stara Zagora region are privately owned. That is, how they plan their actions depends on their policies. But it must be taken into account that they play a key and important role in the whole energy mix at the moment. Therefore, the policy at the moment is very different from what was done back in time - to divide the private and public sectors. Rather, what we are trying to do is be as sustainable as possible and at the most competitive price, so that the costs are affordable, especially for households, and for the industry to be as competitive as possible. ”

Alexander Nikolov also said that it is yet to be clarified what will happen to the American thermal power plants. But we will certainly work to expand Bulgaria's investment potential.

That is, more than 10 years ago, for the first time, they increased their investments (US TPPs) and implemented new projects that will be significantly greener and will help what we are trying to achieve. " . He explained that he did not say more, "because a meeting that is strategic and concrete is expected." We remind you that there are ideas for the construction of photovoltaic power plants on the territory of the power plants, but details and details have not been announced yet.

The Minister again described most of the meetings in the United States, not exactly as exploratory, as many of the companies "will soon see them visiting Bulgaria, here." He also expressed an expectation to change the attitude of the United States towards Bulgaria as an investment partner. "We are trying to do that," he said, noting that there are huge opportunities in Bulgaria for "much more efficient projects and a much more efficient energy mix." "Unfortunately, the sector is very long-term and all the initiatives that are being taken at the moment will become visible in time, but it is important that it happens," he added.


As for liquefied natural gas, Alexander Nikolov explained that he has no plans to build other LNG terminals outside Alexandroupolis at the moment. As for other intentions to invest in other energy projects, he said they would be open and "there will be nothing hidden or unclear".

Nuclear power and nuclear fuel

The energy minister confirmed that "nuclear energy will be pursued". "We will certainly make efforts so that the development of this sector can continue and it can continue much more successfully on a larger scale and be less dependent on current suppliers of fuel and spare parts and technology. "Nikolov said.

Asked what exactly will be at stake in nuclear energy - Kozloduy or small modular reactors, the minister stressed that the MDGs are still at a very early stage, are under investigation and to happen there is still a long way to go. That is not the main topic, "he said. At the same time, he clarified that yes, it is a question of the possibility of building additional capacity in Kozloduy, but "already technical calculations and how to do this will happen in time."

"The third topic is the diversification of nuclear fuel. What are the necessary steps for the relevant analyzes, level of security, regulation in Bulgaria and so on and when this can happen in real format, "Nikolov explained. Regarding the possible future spent nuclear fuel, the Minister said that "the position of our country, regardless of who it will be - the United States, France or any country with nuclear energy is that all decisions must be made from end to end, that is, it cannot be ruled out that the fuel will remain somewhere and pose a risk to the state. Our position is that whichever partner it will include activities and solutions for the already spent fuel - transportation, recycling, what they consider (outside the territory of Bulgaria). Asked whether the United States offered such an option, Nikolov said it was not the time.

The battery factory

As for the battery plant in the Recovery and Sustainability Plan, Nikolov said he did not consider it impossible. "On the contrary, if it happens, it will give a lot to the economy as a whole. Currently in the region Bulgaria is the only net exporter of energy. The fact is that the criticisms that we export a lot of electricity, and it should stay in Bulgaria and create added value, are partly justified, which means that all efforts to balance the system would be extremely successful. From the point of view of realization, the plant for the batteries themselves is included in the Plan. The Fair Transition Fund will have funds for the construction of such facilities, "he said, stressing again that there is a possibility for the construction of such a plant, and technologically it will not matter what these batteries are, as the tender procedure will be open and will receive concrete support under the Recovery and Sustainability Plan. But technology will not stop at lithium-ion batteries.

"The problem is that we are seeing a huge boom in new green projects, but there are none related to balancing them. Fortunately, we have a lot of water resources that can also be used. There are also some projects on the part of NEK that need to be accelerated, "the energy minister added.



More from Bulgaria: