Renewables

Bulgaria opens calls for battery storage subsidies within renewable energy projects

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Published

March 18, 2024

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Published:

March 18, 2024

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Investors have until June 12 to apply for grants for energy storage investments in Bulgaria of EUR 273 million within two calls. The subsidies are for battery systems required to be installed together with renewable electricity plants of at least 200 kW in capacity.

Following a three-month delay, the Ministry of Energy of Bulgaria combined five planned procedures for grants for energy storage facilities into three and launched calls for two of them. The aim is to support the buildout of renewable electricity plants, with which the subsidized systems would be integrated into hybrid power plants.

Total budget in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, under the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, is EUR 339 million, of which EUR 66 million will remain for the third tender. The authorities will decide on it depending on the interest in the current ones.

The goal is to support the installation of renewable energy plants with 1,425 MW in total capacity alongside energy storage with an overall operating power of 350 MW. The two procedures are for planned investments in electricity production as well as for facilities commissioned since the beginning of 2023, but with battery energy storage yet to be installed.

Subsidies to cover up to 50% of battery costs

The deadline for applications is June 12. No beneficiary can receive more than a third of the sum and more than 50% of eligible costs. Companies with core activities in the sectors of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as ones facilitating the closure of uncompetitive coal mines, aren’t allowed to participate.

Initially proposed guarantees were too high for many companies, so the government lowered them

Following a public consultation process, the government lowered the required guarantees. Critics claimed they were too high for a large number of companies.

Batteries and other kinds of storage are necessary to balance the shortfall and surplus in electricity production of wind and solar power plants, as they depend on the weather. For instance, on sunny days, photovoltaics tend to overload the grid around noon. Storage enables the surplus to be sold and consumed at a time of higher demand or lower production. Otherwise, network operators are forced to cut off some units.

Projects in smaller tender capped at 2 MW

One call is for solar and wind power projects of 200 kW to 2 MW each. The goal is to add 200 MW in combined capacity with at least 100 MW of battery energy storage supported by subsidies.

Participants are competing for EUR 55 million. Maximum support per plant is EUR 549,000 per MW, excluding value-added tax, of the storage unit’s operating power.

The other tender, for renewable electricity projects of at least 200 kW, is intended for large enterprises. The budget is EUR 218 million. The government said at least 940 MW of capacity needs to be supported, with a minimum of 200 MW in total in battery operating power.

Each beneficiary can receive up to EUR 379,000 per MW of energy storage, excluding VAT.

A South African investor opened a battery factory in Rousse last year

Bulgaria is relying heavily on battery technology and energy storage overall in its energy transition. Belgian company ABEE launched a EUR 1.1 billion project in December for a battery plant, recycling facility and a research and development center.

Solar MD, a battery manufacturer based in South Africa, opened its LiFePO4 Energy Storage facility in Rousse last year. State-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding or BEH has established a subsidiary for green energy and storage projects.

Neighboring Greece recently completed its second auction for standalone battery projects. Serbia is negotiating with Hyundai Engineering and UGT Renewables after selecting them for a strategic partnership for 1 GW of solar power with batteries. Turkey has given priority in 2022 to renewable electricity projects with storage that have matching capacity and operating power, respectively.

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