Bulgaria experiences historic power output slump in June

Bulgaria historic power output slump in June

Photo: John Middelkoop on Unsplash


July 9, 2024



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July 9, 2024



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In the first six months of 2024, the Kozloduy nuclear power plant generated a record low amount of electricity. Bulgaria’s total production in June was the weakest since 2019. Photovoltaics were the second-strongest segment last month alone as coal plant output slumped 19% year over year.

Bulgaria is nearing yet another in a string of snap general elections amid three years of political turmoil. Meanwhile, its electricity mix is becoming ever greener but almost without any planning, Capital.bg reported. It could impact employment and the security of energy supply. In June, solar power supply was 24% higher month over month and a stunning 62% up on an annual scale due to a surge in new facilities.

Furthermore, photovoltaics were second last month in production as coal plants keep losing ground. In June, green electricity accounted for 43%, leading to balancing issues.

During most of June, solar power was curtailed due to grid congestion and there were major issues with balancing prices. It means production was significantly higher than supply.

Following a protest that owners of photovoltaics held, the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (KEVR) said it would cover just the losses that they suffered on May 19, without altering the methodology.

The first medium-sized solar power plant with batteries in Bulgaria recently came online. But the only really large battery, the Chaira pumped storage hydropower plant, is still out of order. In the meantime, thermal power plants are in charge of balancing, the article adds.

One reactor in Kozloduy is offline since mid-June

Altogether, in the first six months of the year, Bulgaria’s electricity trade balance was barely positive. The country was a net importer in June, the article reads.

The Kozloduy nuclear power plant kept the top spot in volume last month. But the six-month tally was the weakest so far, 7.7 TWh, due to several outages. One of the two reactors has been offline since June 15 due to malfunction. Kozloduy usually generates 5% to 10% more. Bulgaria had the lowest June output since 2019.

The Kozloduy nuclear power plant normally generates 5% to 10% more electricity in the first half of the year

Hydropower plants generated a quarter of electricity less on an annual basis as well as year on year.

While market forces are pushing Bulgarian coal plants out of the equation, electricity prices were the highest since 2022 last month nevertheless, according to the statistics. The news outlet pointed to the extreme blackout that struck several Western Balkan countries on June 21. Prices in the region and Bulgaria are rising with the changes in the balance of production and demand, the report adds.

The June average was EUR 97.5 per MWh, the highest since the beginning of the year.

Rise in power prices fails to revive coal power

Solar power covered 24% of domestic supply in June. The share of coal-fired facilities was 17%, compared to January’s 33%. Coal plant output fell by 12% from May in absolute terms and 19% from June of the previous year.

Evidently, the rise in prices wasn’t sufficient to breathe life back into thermal power plants using the solid fossil fuel. Their operation is rather cheap in itself, but their operators have additional and high costs for carbon dioxide emissions.

Production was halved in the first six months from the comparable period in 2023. It was also more than three times lower than in 2021.

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