Renewables

Bulgaria’s NEK launches floating solar, battery, pumped storage projects

Bulgaria NEK floating solar battery pumped storage

Photo: SPG Solar / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode.en

Published

April 18, 2024

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Published:

April 18, 2024

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National Electricity Co. – NEK is preparing to invest in two floating solar power and two pumped storage hydropower plants and developing battery energy storage proposals. Most of the Bulgarian state-owned power utility’s projects are in the initial phases.

The national electricity system is increasingly facing periods of lots of excess electricity and shortages. It highlights the balancing issue in Bulgaria and the need for energy storage, but the projects are slow, Capital reported. Government-controlled electricity producer NEK is betting on pumped storage hydropower.

The country hosts the largest so-called water battery in the Balkans, the Chaira facility. The pumped storage hydropower plant has been offline for two years after a series of breakdowns and failed repair attempts.

A tender is ongoing for the reconstruction of the fourth unit, out of four in total. The utility valued the project at EUR 27.3 million. Most of its hydropower projects didn’t reach the financing phase.

Engineers are in Asia, Africa

The trouble with the renewal of Chaira is not so much in financing as in finding experts, technicials and engineers, the media outlet pointed out. It added that a significant number of European specialists are in Asia and Africa, handling the boom of such projects.

Another investment, under development for several years, is for the construction of the Yadenitsa dam between Belovo and Yundola. The facility would be part of the Belmeken-Sestrimo-Chaira cascade and lift the pumped storage hydropower plant’s operating capacity.

A report on the project, which is in a very advanced phase, is expected in the autumn. The expected cost is EUR 230 million, the article adds.

Conventional hydroelectric plants with dams are energy storage units, too

NEK is also leaning on hydroelectric plants with dams to store energy as water, Executive Director Martin Georgiev said. In addition, the company is developing a pilot battery storage project at the Vacha hydropower plant, he revealed.

The two planned underground pumped storage hydropower plants at the Dospat and Batak dams will have 800 MW to 1 GW each in capacity, NEK’s chief said. He stressed that the utility would seek EUR 150 million from the REPowerEU scheme for feasibility studies and other activities.

Total storage capacity of the two future facilities, at existing dams, amounts to 3.05 TWh, according to the Bulgarian news website.

NEK expects more than EUR 51 million from NRRP for two floating photovoltaic projects with storage

NEK also has ambitious projects for floating solar power plants at reservoirs Rozov Kladenets and Ovcharitsa with 5 MW in energy storage operating power. The company submitted requests for over EUR 51 million in funding from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

However, Georgiev stressed that the technology isn’t regulated in Bulgaria.

Of note, German company Profine Energy has proposed to install a floating solar power plant of 500 MW to 800 MW on the Ogosta artificial lake in northwestern Bulgaria. Initially, it considered as much as 1.5 GW.

NEK owns 31 hydroelectric systems, with an overall capacity of 2.74 GW. According to the report, there are delays in maintenance and modernization projects.

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