Bulgaria halved coal-fired power generation in 2023, upped solar

Bulgaria halved coal-fired power generation in 2023, upped solar | INFBusiness.com

Bulgaria’s coal-fired power plants halved their electricity output last year, while solar farms increased production by 141% compared to the previous year, according to data the country’s Energy and Water Regulatory Commission sent to parliament.

Bulgaria plans to close its last coal-fired power plant in 2038, and the plants will have to become back-up capacity for the last decade of their existence.

However, as protests staged by the miners’ unions made clear in September of last year, this will affect the future of nearly 100,000 Bulgarians directly and indirectly employed in the country’s coal-fired power industry, according to the largest trade union confederation, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB).

Even though coal is set for a complete exit in over a decade, data from the energy regulator already point to a drop in coal-based electricity generation.

While Bulgaria’s coal-fired power proved key to keeping neighbouring countries’ energy systems running during the 2022 energy crisis – allowing Bulgaria to sell €3 billion worth of electricity and making it the EU’s second-largest exporter after Sweden that year – in 2023, lignite-fired power generation fell by 46% and power generation from lignite and brown coal plants fell by 51%.

Although this decline in coal-fired production led to a 21% drop in electricity generation, this was offset by a huge increase in electricity generation from solar power plants, which rose by 141%.

Data from the energy regulator also indicated that the stability of gas and electricity prices in 2023 is expected to hurt coal-fired power, which is again becoming a problem for the state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding due to uncompetitive prices.

All these changes in the energy market have had a serious impact on the structure of electricity generation in Bulgaria. In 2023, the largest source of electricity in Bulgaria was the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, with a 43% share of the domestic market, thermal power plants with 29% and renewable sources with 28%.

In the crisis year 2022, more than 50% of Bulgaria’s electricity will be generated from coal.

The EU’s poorest country expects €1.2 billion from the Just Transition Plan to transform its coal regions and at least another €2 billion from the Recovery Plan for energy projects related to renewables, energy storage and hydrogen production.

(Krassen Nikolov | Euractiv.bg)

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Bulgaria halved coal-fired power generation in 2023, upped solar | INFBusiness.com

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