Boyan Rashev: Bulgaria can be much more significant for the EU

There is no wealth without industry. There is no industry without abundant, reliable and cheap energy, commented the expert

Port “Ezerovo” to Varna. Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/Bloomberg

Did you notice that in yesterday’s speech on the State of the European Union (EU) Ursula von der Leyen comments rather more on the (hopes of) the collapse of the Russian economy than the situation in Europe? The reason is simple – the news is very bad and extremely politically inconvenient, Boyan Rashev, managing partner at Denkstatt Bulgaria, wrote in his comment.

“This is a real existential crisis,” Rashev quoted Paul Foss, director of European Aluminum, the European trade association of aluminum producers and processors, as saying. “We have to do something extremely quickly, or there will be nothing to fix very soon.”

Historical experience clearly shows that – once a primary aluminum plant closes, it never starts again. Exceptions are very few and require a combination of factors – very high aluminum prices, a favorable institutional framework and above all – the availability of vast amounts of reliable and cheap energy. The situation is similar in other highly energy-intensive heavy industries – the production of steel, zinc, ammonia and fertilizers, plastics and all kinds of other chemicals.

Boyan Rashev


Institut Français de Bulgarie.
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Boyan Rashev is one of the leading environmental management experts in Bulgaria. Since 2007, he has been a managing partner in denkstatt Bulgaria – a consulting company that helps businesses manage their impact on natural and social capital. His professional expertise is in the field of sustainable development, environmental management, valuation of ecosystem services, circular economy, air quality, natural resource management. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in “Environmental and Resource Management” from Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, Germany. He also studied at the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, the University of Natural and Life Sciences in Vienna and the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. In 2012, he was a finalist in the Next Generation national competition for young business leaders.

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Politicians and media gleefully comment on the data on “saving energy” and filling gas storages in Europe. However, very few people note the real reason – Europe’s heavy industry is dying. Major plants on the continent are simply closing down – the attached infographics make that clear. Is this the ‘improved energy efficiency’ and ‘demand management’ we should be looking forward to?
Idle steel mills in the EU. Graphics: GMK Center

There is also good news: Bulgaria is not yet part of this process. None of our large factories has closed – our industrial production is even growing at a great pace. For now. We owe it above all to the exceptional level of security and independence of our electricity system, built around the Maritsa-Iztok complex, the Kozloduy NPP and the large hydropower plants. It is no accident that Bulgaria has become the third largest electricity exporter in the EU and practically ensures the stability of the Balkans.

However, heavy industry cannot survive on electricity alone. It has a continuous need for an appalling amount of heat, steam and/or very high temperatures that can only be provided by an on-site combustion process. This is why natural gas is so necessary – it is the most frequently used direct energy source by European industry, simply because it is the cleanest. It is followed by high-calorie coal and petroleum products, and finally comes biomass and waste.
The sharp rise in gas prices has hit fertilizer and chemical producers in Europe. Graphics: ICIS, Natural Earth

If we want the Bulgarian industry not only to survive, but also to be able to help Europe by producing and exporting even more, we must provide it with the necessary quantities of reliable and cheap energy. Unfortunately, we do not have significant deposits of quality coal and oil, but it is very likely that we have natural gas. We just need to invest in exploration and eventual production – no matter if it’s conventional, shale or deepwater. In addition, we certainly have a large biomass resource that we do not fully and sustainably use.

Finally, we have large amounts of waste that is not recyclable but has a high calorific value. In Western Europe, they are currently waging a war for such a material, because it practically replaces gas in heating systems and coal in industry. And what do we do? We bury it in landfills – a practice long forgotten in Western Europe. Or at best we pay the cement plants to “treat” it.

There is no lack of projects and investors for each of the above-described possible own sources of energy. However, there is no political will. And when I look at the boundless populism with which we are flooded during the upcoming elections – there won’t be any. And without her, nothing can happen.

But the facts remain: There is no wealth without industry. There is no industry without abundant, reliable and cheap energy!

The article is in bulgaria

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Tags: Boyan Rashev Bulgaria significant

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