I don’t think there is a real debate on the topic of keeping coal power plants, considering the purely economic reasons and the production costs of all coal plants in the region.
This was stated by Severin Vertigov, Country Manager and Commercial Director of Eneri, during the forum Darik Business Radar: Business in the next decade, organized by Darik Business Review.
On the one hand, very often opinions creep into the public space about how we should preserve our coal plants, use the local resource, etc., but at the same time, very often the same people say how important it is for Bulgaria to remain a net exporter of electricity.
The two things, in fact, cannot exist in one sentence, according to Vertigov. Electricity is exported from the cheaper market area to the more expensive one. Keeping its coal and thermal plants using this resource means that the price in Bulgaria is significantly higher.
In such a situation, the country will import electricity from Romania and Greece. This is not so scary, according to Vertigov, considering that from a consumer point of view, everyone would prefer cheap imports and consumption of cheaper electricity.
Regarding the share of RES in the production mix, Vertigov stated that in Western countries the production mix is changing much faster than in Bulgaria due to easier project development procedures and due to greater interest of end consumers in purchasing green energy.
According to him, the fact that in order to reduce their carbon footprint, in the last year and a half, many Bulgarian companies publicly announced the signing of long-term contracts for the supply of green energy should also be taken into account.
This is a relatively simple tool for reducing the carbon footprint, and even old industrial companies, such as KCM, Etem Gestamp and a large part of telecoms, benefited from this practice, notes Vertigov.
On the question of whether the country should be an importer or exporter of electricity, Vertigov believes that the efforts of everyone in the electricity sector should rather be aimed at more integration, i.e. greater intersystem connectivity between Bulgaria and neighboring countries.
Being able to import cheap wind energy from Romania, where the conditions for such production are significantly better, and at the same time export solar energy is something that both countries and the entire region will benefit from, he believes.
Regarding the readiness of the infrastructure for the connection of more RES sources, Vertigov pointed out that large projects are currently being implemented in the country. The installed capacity of solar power has doubled in the last year and a few months. However, the network is struggling, according to Vertigov.
We should note the fact that a large part of the funds under the Recovery Plan are aimed precisely at the network operators, i.e. Major investments in the network and expansion of its capacity are forthcoming.
Additional capacity for new connections will be released after the installation of energy storage facilities as well. The first procedure under the Recovery Plan has already been published, and this measure alone is expected to finance storage facilities with a total capacity of 575 megawatts, Vertigov said.
According to various estimates, the availability of these capacities alone will allow the installation of more than 1,500 megawatts of RES.
Regarding the potential for the development of RES in Bulgaria, Vertigov believes that it is necessary to think at the regional level, because in this way the advantages of different countries are shared.
In Bulgaria, solar technology has the greatest advantage and in the last 3-4 years over 90% of the installed RES capacities are precisely solar due to the fact that the production from a photovoltaic plant in our country is about 25% above the average for Europe.
At the same time, the market is integrated and when Bulgaria does not need so much solar energy, it is exported to Romania, Hungary, Austria, where there is sufficient interconnection, noted Vertigov.
According to him, Bulgaria also has the potential for offshore wind power plants. There is already a lot of talk about changing the regulatory framework in this direction. Unfortunately, projects take about 10 years to develop.
Until then, the energy expert expects a more rapid development of solar plants and the development of wind to a lesser extent. In Romania, the situation is exactly the opposite – many more wind energy projects and significantly less for photovoltaics.
Interest in ESG is growing every day, Vertigov said, pointing out that 97% of companies in the S&P500 stock index have an ESG rating.
Consumer interest in having a higher ESG rating seems to be growing steadily. The presence of a high ESG rating is also a criterion for more accessible and attractive financing and, accordingly, faster growth, he added.
This trend is stronger in Western Europe, but slowly, with small steps, this is also happening in our region, and an increasing number of corporate clients will realize the need to have and maintain a high level of ESG rating, Vertigov believes.
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