Bulgaria must protect its interests and positions in front of the EU and develop the economy, energy and industry in the best possible way with a view to decarbonization. Therefore, our country should direct more investments to the most modern and clean and nuclear technologies. Such an opinion was expressed by the Acting Minister of Energy, Rosen Hristov, during his participation in the round table on the topic "Present and future of renewable and low-carbon fuels". The organizer of the conference was the energy expert Slavcho Neikov with the support of the internet portal 3eNews.
The minister emphasized that the need for greater investment in these technologies should be valid both for European funding such as the Recovery and Sustainability Plan, as well as for the state and private enterprises. According to Hristov, in this way it will be much easier to solve a very painful problem for Bulgaria - what to do to preserve jobs and people's livelihood in the so-called coal regions. The Minister of Energy is of the opinion that in the event of the closure of the thermal power plants and coal mining, 20-30 thousand people will be out of work.
And it is precisely the investments in the implementation and development of new technologies that will lead to the diversification of the types of jobs in these regions and, accordingly, to the preservation of people's work. "Instead of investing in something that is dying, it is better to invest in new technologies and industries that will save these jobs." The technological development and diversification of the industry will help this region to a much greater extent," Hristov believes. He added that in this way, people in coal regions will have even more choice in what type of work to focus on in the transformation of the economy and industry with a view to decarbonisation.
The minister noted that in these regions, Bulgaria has the most necessary - the human resource, which has quite diverse knowledge and skills, i.e. people will be able to cover the need for personnel for various positions - from highly qualified specialists, through lower level experts such as operators of various machines and installations to general workers.
Hristov recalled that even at the moment there are available innovative technologies for completely emission-free use of coal. Unfortunately, they are still too expensive and currently their use is not economically viable. By pointing out that for the last 20 years there is not a single such installation that was built and used without subsidies. It is for this reason that his opinion is that it is necessary to invest in such new technologies, the development of which will lead to their becoming more profitable, thus preserving jobs.
To be sent: The next energy minister to protect Bulgaria's interests before the EU
Bulgaria must not just fulfill all the new requirements and directives of the EU, but participate in their writing, protect its interests and positions, Rosen Hristov also said, hours before handing over the baton to his next expert. Hristov added that this fully refers to the decarbonization of our economy and industry, the introduction of new technologies, but also the preservation of existing ones through their development, such as nuclear and coal. According to him, Bulgaria must announce its demands and interests to the rest of the EU, as well as defend them. And as a successful example of this, he pointed to the changes that Bulgaria managed to achieve in relation to some of the latest decisions of Brussels regarding gas channels and nuclear energy in connection with Russia's war in Ukraine.
Our country is lagging behind in the development of bio- and emission-free fuels compared to most of the other member states, but this can also be seen as a positive situation. Because this is how Bulgaria has the chance to skip over the currently popular transitional technologies and directly introduce modern and efficient ones, noted Minister Hristov. His opinion was supported by the organizer of the round table - Slavcho Neikov. He noted that the cited delay could indeed be turned into an advantage. But he also stressed that politicians should not overdo the delay.
The green hydrogen should not be transported, but should be produced on site next to the consumer
Regarding the topic of replacing natural gas with hydrogen produced in an ecological way, which has been popular in the EU in recent years, it became clear from Rosen Hristov's words that he is a little skeptical about this thesis. According to him, there are quite serious differences between blue fuel and hydrogen. One of the main ones is that the deposits of natural gas are concentrated in certain places, in the case of Europe in Russia, while the largest consumption is concentrated in Western Europe. For this reason, the large-scale gas pipelines that transport this fuel from the source to the consumer were created. With hydrogen, according to Hristov, things will hardly be able to develop in this way. At least because it is much more profitable for the user in the person of a given enterprise to produce it on site, instead of having it transported from hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Moreover, only electricity and the availability of water are needed for the production of hydrogen. Therefore, according to Hristov, it is much more profitable to invest in electricity distribution networks and installations for ecological production and energy storage, instead of infrastructure for large-scale hydrogen transfer, it became clear from the words of the energy minister.
His opinion was supported by the energy expert from Bulgartransgaz, Eng. Dimitar Shterev. He explained that despite the widespread information in recent years that gas infrastructure can be used to replace the blue fuel with hydrogen, this is not exactly the case. According to his words, the gas transmission systems both in Bulgaria and in Europe are currently not suitable to be used for the transfer and storage of alternative gas fuels due to some technological and chemical peculiarities and differences. He gave the example of several installations in Germany where attempts have been made to store hydrogen in gas reservoirs. Because of this, their wells were clogged due to the sulfur compounds of hydrogen, which led to many problems in injecting and extracting hydrogen from the gas reservoirs in question.
From the minister's words, it became clear that the best option is to produce hydrogen where it is consumed.