ESO: The demand for electricity in the region will grow enormously, in a decade it will be as much as the entire consumption of Bulgaria

Energy / Bulgaria
3E news
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Source: ESO, archive

In the region of South-Eastern Europe, it is not expected that the demand for electricity will be reduced in the near future. On the contrary, the demand will increase and for the SEE region it will reach 40-45 twh of electricity per year after 2030. This is approximately the amount of electricity consumption in Bulgaria. This electricity has nowhere to be supplied at the moment, or at least this shortfall will be compensated with extreme difficulty. This was explained by Angelin Tsachev, executive director of the Electricity System Operator (ESO) during the presentation of the sociological survey on the attitudes of Bulgarians regarding nuclear energy. The survey was prepared by Trend agency on behalf of 3eNews and the Bulgarian Atomic Forum Bulatom.

"Our country is part of the common European energy market, we can no longer consider the country as a closed market. We have to look at the possibilities of the entire region of South-Eastern Europe – from Hungary to Greece. In the research done by Compass Lexicon and FTI (the EC's largest consultant) it is shown that depending on the decommissioning of the coal plants, this will also happen between 2030 and 2035. Or as laid down in the Recovery Plan until 2038. But in reality the shortage in the entire region will be of the order of 40-45 TWh per year. This shortfall will be compensated extremely difficult, since the networks and connectivity with the rest of Europe do not allow such huge amounts of energy to be transferred to our latitudes, commented Tsachev.

"Separately, we need to be aware that importing such a large amount of energy will lead to very different prices across the region. More important is the vision of the consultants who have taken pains to point out how all this shortfall can be compensated and the conclusion they have drawn in their research is that to overcome the shortfall in SEE it is necessary the amount of energy produced from nuclear plants to grow to at least 100 TWh per year. And this means that in our region there should be a minimum of 13,000 MW of capacity built to produce emission-free base energy," Tsachev explained the research.

He recalled that there are conditions for the construction of nuclear power plants in the region - currently there are four countries that have nuclear power plants, and only Bulgaria has two licensed nuclear sites. That is, we have a serious and unique chance to develop the sector and create an advantage in the region in the production of electricity.

In a study done last year on behalf of the EC, it shows that by 2030 there will be 200,000 electric cars in Bulgaria. The electricity they need will be in the order of 600,000 - 700,000 megawatt hours. By 2040, the country is expected to have 2 million electric cars with an annual consumption of 7 gigawatt hours, and in 2050 we will have 3.5 million electric cars. They will now need 13-14 gigawatt hours. This makes it possible to operate at least two units of a nuclear power plant, as they will produce a total of about 15 gigawatt hours per year. The experts remind that, in addition to the rapid development of the electric vehicle park, hydrogen technologies and electrolyzers will also be developed in our country. All these technologies require huge amounts of clean energy, which at the moment is not clear how they will be produced in our country and in the Balkans.

Are batteries an option as a way to store energy?

For industrial energy storage, batteries do not provide the necessary results, Tsachev believes. When installing one megawatt of lithium-ion batteries, 60 percent of the capacity is used. Discharging the battery to zero percent greatly shortens its life. It cannot be said that this type of battery will work for ten years and with three thousand charging cycles, Tsachev was categorical. The only technologies that can be used for energy storage now are PAVEC and compressed air systems, he said.

The country's opportunities are serious and the state should focus on such projects, because balancing RES is a serious challenge. 6,000 megawatts of battery power for energy storage cannot solve the problem, the ESO director believes. The system operator has already received applications for the connection of over 35,000 megawatts of new RES capacities. If only 30 percent of them are realized - this is 10,000 megawatts, and the energy produced by them will many times exceed the capacity of the batteries of 6,000 megawatt hours, Tsachev explains. We need energy storage systems, but with a much larger capacity – perhaps 50,000-60,000 megawatt hours. This can be achieved mainly through PAVEC and air compressor systems, the specialist thinks.

Iva Petrova, Deputy Minister of Energy, pointed out that the vision for the development of electricity is based on modeling for the construction of nuclear power plants. This is not just an idea, there is also an analytical base and we can say that we need new capacities. We realize that we need to develop this vision for the development of electricity into a comprehensive energy strategy, including the vision for thermal energy and for the use of natural gas, said Iva Petrova. The analyzes were made by a wide range of experts and the forecasts for the development of electricity demand remain to be clarified, she added.

The results shown, that 66% of the people support nuclear energy and the development of emission-free base capacities, speak for me first of all that the Bulgarian people are really getting informed, showing interest in the security and adequacy of the energy system in these years of transition until 2050. when the energy system needs to be decarbonised. It is important, of course, to go deeper and get even more information because we see that in terms of safety, the price of electric energy from nuclear power plants, people are not familiar, Tsachev explained during the presentation. He shared Bulatom's opinion that the public's lack of familiarity with the possibilities of nuclear energy is the result of one of the last 15 years of misinformation that has been going on regarding NPPs and their remaining in the shadows. "But I think that all these things can be corrected and the Ministry of Energy, as the policy-maker in the field of energy, is the department that must take the necessary steps in this direction," explained the ESO director.



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