They are planning several gigawatts of RES on land in the "Mini Maritsa East" complex

Nuclear energy and RES are not competitors, they are complementary technologies, stated the Minister of Energy Rosen Hristov

Energy / Bulgaria
3E news
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Source: Georgi Velev / 3eNews

Marinela Arabadzhieva

Research by international consultants shows that electricity consumption will increase in the coming years. This will be mainly due to the upcoming electrification of industry and transport and the introduction of hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas, so that we move to the process of full decarbonization in 2050. This was commented by the Minister of Energy Rosen Hristov during a round table on the topic " Current problems of Bulgaria's energy security", organized by the online platform 3eNews and energy policy expert Slavcho Neykov.

He also noted the positive effects that energy efficiency and savings will have, especially for industry. In his address to the participants in the round table, he also outlined the vision for the development of the electricity sector based on nuclear energy, renewable energy sources, taking into account the role of energy efficiency and savings.

Nuclear energy, RES and PAVETS

The Minister recalled the developed and already presented vision for the development of the electricity sector, which envisages, in particular, the gradual transformation of the "Maritsa East" complex, and in general, the regions relying on the coal business towards modern decarbonized regions. In this regard, the possibility of implementing a project for photovoltaic plants on the territory of "Mini Maritsa East" of several gigawatts is already being discussed.

The vision itself is based both on the expected growing consumption of electricity and the commitments made for decarbonization, but also on the basis of affordability to allow both economic development and the electrification of transport. Namely, starting from the outlined framework, the minister explained that mainly in the electricity sector the development of renewable energy capacities (RES), emission-free capacities and in particular nuclear energy and hydroelectric power plants, accompanied by storage systems and more precisely PAVEC, is being focused on.

"We want to keep all the existing capacities as long as it is physically and strategically necessary, so that they work without a shock and without negative economic effects," explained Rosen Hristov, referring to the problem with coal plants and explaining what is being done in this regard, especially regarding of what is set out in the Recovery and Sustainability Plan. "All this requires large-scale investments, which are also a significant commitment," the energy minister pointed out and added that work is being done in the direction of private investments in renewable energy sources and state participation in the development of nuclear power plants and hydroelectric power plants, he pointed out, but explained that in order to achieved the necessary scales and effects, these projects will need international cooperation and a strong one with all countries.

According to the minister, there are currently several problems regarding RES, mainly concerning the framework, which should be simplified in order to realize their faster implementation, and the electricity transmission network, which, as the minister expressed it, is the "bottleneck". "A large part of the projects cannot be realized at least in an economically profitable way due to the lack of infrastructure, so investments are being prepared, including European funds for the expansion of the electricity transmission network, as well as the electricity distribution networks," he said.

With regard to nuclear energy, the Minister of Energy explained that our country is currently partnering with international companies so that the necessary feasibility studies are done, so that "we are ready with concrete proposals and when the National Assembly is formed, it can start work in this area," explained Rosen Hristov. He has not spared the politics of nuclear power in recent years, describing it as "a step forward, a step back and sideways".

"It is high time to take a firm and competent decision, based on facts and analysis, cleared of political nuances, so as to ensure the necessary energy security," Rosen Hristov was emphatic. "My personal position is that nuclear energy is not a competitor of RES. On the contrary, these are complementary technologies," he pointed out, explaining that the modern model of such a combination provides, on the one hand, flexibility and greater deployment of renewable energy sources.

"The view of the Ministry of Energy is that the parallel development of these technologies is the most economically advantageous way for Bulgaria to simultaneously achieve the goals of both decarbonization and providing the neprice while maintaining our leading position in the region as an exporter, which in turn generates significant revenues in the budget," said Hristov. In this regard, he reminded that last year BGN 6 billion in compensation was provided for the industry due to high electricity prices. A working group is currently looking at ways to optimize the business compensation program, which is still in place, but to make it more effective and to incentivize businesses to invest in green technologies for energy efficiency and self-consumption in the hope that becomes a permanent asset when the program ceases to exist.

Restructuring of the projects under PVU

The development of the electric power industry is closely related to the Recovery and Sustainability Plan (RPP) and the intention of the Ministry of Energy is to optimize part of the projects under this plan, which are not well structured, it became clear from the words of the Minister of Energy. He did not fail to explain that unenforceable commitments were made or those that are enforceable, but with negative effects not only for the energy sector, but also for the entire economy of the country. "These are commitments to achieve 40% of site-specific emissions from coal-fired power plants." "In general, our analyzes show that Bulgaria is a leading country in Europe in terms of achieving decarbonization goals. We are far from the big polluters in Europe, both in terms of values and in other ways of calculation, on the contrary, we are in the forefront if we look at the overall European goals. So our position on renegotiation is that Bulgaria's goals are the European ones," said Hristov. According to him, it is generally a question of preserving the structure of the PVA and renegotiating certain elements, including in compliance with the instructions of the European Commission regarding REPowerEU.

"Our renegotiation is de facto achieving higher efficiency on the road to decarbonisation," he said, stressing that there is interest-related disagreement over things that would not be helpful, but rather harmful. of the country, and of Europe. In this regard, the Minister of Energy gave an example of Bulgaria's position against the imposition of sanctions in the field of nuclear energy, explaining how such a step would affect not only Bulgaria, but also the region and Europe as a whole.

The minister also gave an insight into the restructuring of the projects under PVU.

"A large-scale deployment of RES on the territory of "Mini Maritsa East" is imminent. We are negotiating intensively with a number of investors," the energy minister also announced. In particular, it is a matter of deploying photovoltaic power plants on territories that are damaged and that need to be recultivated. It is a matter of building capacities of several gigawatts.”

Regarding green energy storage projects, Minister Hristov stated that the state's vision is to build a PAVEC.

Regarding geothermal energy, the intention is to divert funds to use this source for heating, rather than the current vision of a geothermal plant.



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