The three regions most affected by the energy transition in Bulgaria will be able to draw EUR 1.15 billion in total for the transformation of their coal-dependent economies toward renewable sources and innovative technologies. The European Commission must approve the territorial just transition plans for Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil for them to access the funds.
Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said Bulgaria needs to make the best use of European investments and combine them with private ones so that its coal regions become the heart of the country’s economy. The Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works have submitted the three so-called territorial just transition plans for public debate.
The government earmarked EUR 1.15 billion for the areas most affected by the energy transition – Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil. The planned measures aren’t meant only to preserve tens of thousands of jobs but also to introduce top-of-the-line technologies and help the economic development of the coal regions, Denkov stressed.
Requalification, education are among pillars of just transition plans
The public discussion process lasts until September 15, after which the documents can be amended if necessary and sent to the European Commission for negotiations. The European Union’s executive body is expected to adopt the three plans by the end of the year, according to the prime minister.
Other ministries should join the effort and enable requalification and training and adjust school curricula, among other things, Denkov pointed out.
A major part of the planned investments are for a green hydrogen value chain
Timely work on the development of new economic activities is key to a successful energy transition, the Ministry of Energy said. The territorial just transition plans envisage an entire green hydrogen value chain. It would be produced using energy from the wind and solar power projects under development, to be distributed for industrial applications, transportation and energy storage.
Maritsa East coal complex to become zero emission industrial park
Bulgaria revealed that it would establish industrial parks with zero greenhouse gas emissions, of which one would replace the Maritsa East (Maritsa iztok) coal mining and thermal power plant complex. The funds are also intended for the production and supply of biomethane. In addition, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy investments are being prepared with a focus on tackling energy poverty, the documentation shows.
A company is set to be established to manage and upgrade land in the coal regions and prepare infrastructure for new industrial activities. The government said local just transition commissions would ensure a bottom-up approach and the fullest consideration of the interests of the communities in the areas of Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil.