Electricity

Coal plants in Bulgaria to be shut not by government but by market – minister

bulgaria coal power plants julian popov

Photo: Ministry of Environment and Water

Published

January 15, 2024

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Published:

January 15, 2024

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It is the market that will close coal power plants in Bulgaria, Minister of Environment and Water Julian Popov said and added he doesn’t expect them to keep operating beyond 2030.

Bulgaria has officially set 2038 as the year when the phaseout of the coal power plants will be completed.

In an interview with public broadcaster BNR, Julian Popov expressed the opinion that there is no chance for the facilities to keep operating beyond 2030, arguing that the market would cause them to shut down.

“We will not close anything administratively. The market will close them, it is closing them right now,” he said.

According to the minister, over 25% of electricity is currently produced from renewable energy sources. Turning to the fact that not a single wind farm came online in several years, he claimed it is about to change.

The energy sector is complex and doesn’t rely on one, two or three sources of electricity

Currently, Bulgaria’s total wind power capacity is 704 MW.

Popov added that most private companies operating coal power plants in Bulgaria are very seriously discussing leaving the sector within no more than years.

But he also suggested they have other options for them. The energy sector is complex and doesn’t rely on one, two or three sources of electricity, but on dozens and even hundreds of technologies, the minister pointed out.

Bulgaria needs to improve the investment environment by offering clarity and predictability, according to Popov.

The Maritsa Iztok (Maritsa East) region has the potential to attract EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion in investments, he said.

The climate change issue has been neglected in Bulgaria

In Popov’s view, the climate change issue has been neglected in Bulgaria. A formula is needed, he said, referring to the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, to compensate the countries that are affected the most by extreme weather conditions.

A just approach is not some very general category, but a quite particular one, and concerns huge funds, “with hundreds of billions,” Popov asserted. The way they are managed is very important, so that the money isn’t misused, he said.

As for a just transformation in Bulgaria, it means that jobs and energy poor household aren’t significantly impacted, he underscored.

Bulgaria will receive EUR 1.2 billion from the Just Transition Fund (JTF) as the European Commission approved its territorial just transition plans (TJTPs) in December.

The grants are for the country’s three coal regions – Stara Zagora, Kyustendil and Pernik, to shut down mines and coal power plants, rehabilitate land, switch to circular and climate-neutral economy and lift households out of energy poverty.

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