Minister of Innovation and Growth Milena Stoycheva said in Dubai that the Stara Zagora hydrogen valley project would get EUR 8.2 million in EU funding.
Bulgaria’s pavilion at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai hosted a panel on industrial decarbonization technologies in Central and Eastern Europe. Minister of Innovation and Growth Milena Stoycheva (pictured third right), who is part of the country’s delegation, said one of the main goals of her ministry is to enable a sustainable digital and green transition for businesses.
She highlighted the significance of renewable energy solutions, decarbonization and hydrogen technologies. The ministry has invested in the development of the concept of a hydrogen valley including infrastructure in the area of Stara Zagora, with support from the European Commission, Stoycheva added.
Bulgaria aims to be among pioneers in hydrogen valley concept
Bulgaria aspires to be among the 20 countries in the world with a working hydrogen valley, she said. The minister added that the project would receive EUR 8.2 million, obtained through the European Union. Hydrogen technologies will significantly support the decarbonization of Bulgaria’s economy, in her view.
The ministry noted that it issued a national hydrogen roadmap with a focus on hydrogen. It opens up an innovative segment for business and the economy as well as new investment opportunities, the statement reads.
Low-carbon hydrogen projects rely heavily on subsidies
The hydrogen valley concept implies the creation of the entire value chain from production and storage to distribution to consumption. State aid is available for green hydrogen, obtained through electrolysis using renewable electricity, and for low-carbon hydrogen overall, which includes the utilization of nuclear power.
But the technology has a long way to go to become competitive with hydrogen produced directly from fossil gas, so investors still rely on massive subsidies in the EU.
Current energy minister participated in development of the project
The Zagora Sustainable Hydrogen Region (ZAHYR) was one of seven smaller projects of the kind that won grants of EUR 8 million each in January from Horizon Europe. They were approved through the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, a public-private mechanism.
Minister of Energy Rumen Radev, who took office in June with the new cabinet, was involved in the development of the ZAHYR project.
Stara Zagora is one of Bulgaria’s coal regions undergoing a transition toward cleaner energy sources. In other news from the area, the city authority is considering the possibility of installing a solar power plant at a former landfill, currently under rehabilitation.