Renewables

Aurubis to expand solar power capacity at its copper plant in Bulgaria

Aurubis solar power copper Bulgaria

Photo: ESCO Bulgaria

Published

April 5, 2023

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Published:

April 5, 2023

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Aurubis has hired ESCO Bulgaria to install the second and third solar power plants at its copper smelter and refinery in Pridop, east of Sofia. The combined capacity is 13 MW while a project is under development for another unit, of 20 MW.

Industrial producers in Europe are rapidly turning to energy from renewable sources for the needs of their facilities, and solar power is the most favorable on-site and near-site solution. Switching makes companies more competitive as it enables lower and more stable prices than for fossil fuels and eliminates costs for greenhouse gas emissions.

Such projects, which also strengthen the security of supply and energy independence, are springing up in Southeastern Europe as well, but they are mostly in their early stages. Hamburg-based Aurubis has pioneered the model in Bulgaria in the utility-scale segment with a 10 MW solar power plant at a recultivated landfill next to its copper smelter and refinery.

Pushing toward 20% renewables share in copper plant’s consumption

When the company said construction is about to begin, almost two years ago, it already had a plan to cover at least 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources in the medium term. Now it picked ESCO Bulgaria for the design, delivery, installation, commissioning and maintenance of two photovoltaic units with a total peak capacity of 13 MW.

Aurubis Bulgaria even has hydropower and wind power projects in the works, for own consumption

Aurubis 2 is set to be built on a reclaimed landfill while the Aurubis 3 project is located within the facility in Pridop, east of the capital Sofia, in the Srednogorie area. Together they are expected to generate 17 GWh per year, equivalent to the consumption of 5,000 Bulgarian households. The two units are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

ESCO Bulgaria picked again as contractor

Aurubis 1 was built by the same firm, which used to be called CEZ ESCO. Its output is 11.7 GWh per year. The three photovoltaic systems should cover 6% of the facility’s annual electricity consumption.

Martin Katinov, the copper plant’s energy project manager, told Investor.bg that yet another solar power project is under development. The fourth photovoltaic unit is planned at 20 MW, he said.

Moreover, Aurubis Bulgaria is even preparing hydropower and wind power projects for own consumption, Katinov revealed. It is also developing a solution for utilizing waste heat from the copper plant. Another option is to sign long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with other green energy producers, according to the manager.

The company is using hydrogen in its furnace in Hamburg and the results are positive, he noted.

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