The Ministry of Energy (ME) published a draft energy strategy entitled Strategic vision for sustainable development of the electricity sector of the Republic of Bulgaria with a horizon till 2053. In it, the ME based its scenarios for the country’s energy development on two simulation models “Pathway Explorer” of CLIMACT and Compass Lexecon’s European wholesale electricity market model.
The strategy analyzes the power capacities planned to be decommissioned and the construction of new ones in the countries of the Balkan Peninsula. Based on it, the conclusion is reached that the plans and projections of the neighboring countries show that Bulgaria can hardly rely on them for electricity supply at peak demand moments. Moreover, there are indications that the Balkan countries will need both electricity and storage systems to store excess generation from renewables.
When preparing the strategy, the European and national emission reductions targets are taken into account:
- National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) 2021 – 2030 (IPEC) – the target is to reduce the total amount of greenhouse gases from the Energy sector by 26% by 2030.
- Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) – reduction of carbon emissions from electricity generation by 40% based on 2019 baseline levels to be achieved in 2025 (measured and confirmed with 2026 data) by specifically listed coal plants.
The greatest ambition for the decarbonization of the Bulgarian energy sector by 2026 is defined in Reform 10 of the RRP, which, according to the ME, is unrealistic, given the current state and the trends in the development of the price levels on the energy markets. At the same time, the proposed target is a commitment only under the RRP. The strategic document that should detail the implementation of the decarbonization goal is the updated NECP, a draft of which should be presented in June 2023.
Energy scenarios developed and implemented by the Energy Transition Commission (ETC) of the European Green Deal Advisory Board
According to ETC models, Bulgaria can decarbonize the energy sector through continued development of renewable capacities combined with new flexible low-carbon capacities. In all scenarios, in line with the increased European ambition by 2030 and 2050 for the decarbonisation of the European and Bulgarian energy system, CO2 emissions are expected to fall by at least 75% (compared to 1990) by 2030 before reaching zero by 2050.
However, the conclusions of the Ministry of Energy (ME) based on the models presented by the ETC are that the implementation of Reform 10 of the RRP by the end of 2025 will lead to disruption of the security of supply electricity in the country and will threaten the national security. It will be impossible to export electricity, as it will be necessary to import electricity from neighboring countries in order to ensure the security of the Electricity System of Bulgaria, this would lead to an increase in electricity prices in the country. The ME claims that the implementation of the commitments for the Reform on RRP will lead to such an energy mix, in which there will be a shortage of electricity in the peak months of consumption, which will increase Bulgaria’s energy dependence, as well as create prerequisites for an increase in the final price of electricity for households and businesses, there will be a need for additional investment in generation capacities. According to the Ministry, since these results do not meet the strategic goals of reliable, secure and affordable energy and national security, a new model has been developed – the Ministry of Energy’s model.
Energy model of the Ministry of Energy
The model prepared by the Ministry of Energy explores several options for achieving full decarbonization. The model envisages a strong deployment of low-carbon and RES technologies, hydro and nuclear power by 2050 to maintain security of supply while phasing out lignite over the period 2030-2038. Key assumptions in the national power capacity development model include:
- use of existing capacities until 2030 to guarantee energy security
- introduction of technical solutions to reduce emissions
- construction of new 2000 MW capacities at the Belene site by 2035/2040 (a decision is required Q1 2023)
- construction of 2000 MW capacities by 2045 at the Kozloduy site, replacing the existing capacities in Kozloduy
- building 7 GW of solar and 2 GW of wind capacity by 2030.
- building 12 GW of solar and 4 GW of wind capacity by 2050.
- construction of 870 MW of new hydropower plants by 2030.
- construction of 1270 MW by 2050.
- focus on local heating systems
- construction of 1 GW electrolysers by 2030, production of 90,000 t/y.
- construction of 5 GW electrolysers and production of 520,000 t/y. hydrogen by 2050 for local consumption and export.
Energy storage systems
- completion of the extension of Pump storage plant Chaira by 2030,
- construction of new storage (underground, compressed air) and construction of 1 GW by 2035.
- introduction of 600 MWh batteries by 2030.
- introduction of 1.5 GW of seasonal storage systems by 2050.
- providing system services to neighboring countries as well
High and medium voltage networks
- 1900 km. modernization and construction of new power lines in the transmission network
- digitalization and development of the distribution network
- 1000 charging stations for the development of technical and charging infrastructure by 2030.
- introduction of measures to support and increase energy efficiency in households
- application of good practices and technologies from around the world
Figure 1. Electricity consumption forecast by sector
According to the scenario of the Ministry of Energy, the final demand for electricity in Bulgaria is expected to reach 61 TWh by 2050, and the increase in demand will be provoked by the electrification of transport and the production of green hydrogen through electrolysis. An increase in energy efficiency is also accounted for in ME projections.
The necessary investments of ME model for the main low-carbon capacities are shown in the figure below.
Table 1. New capacities and necessary investments for their construction.
Regarding the dynamics of the installed capacities, ME considers:
- Lignite plants gradually being replaced in the period 2030 – 2035 with a combination of variable RES, hydropower and NPP.
- Installed capacity increases by 20 GW by 2050 compared to today. This increase is mainly due to the growth of renewable energy sources, with combined wind and solar reaching 17 GW of installed capacity by 2050.
- Growth in variable renewables is also accompanied by increases in hydropower (+2.3 GW from 2040 onwards), nuclear capacity (+2 GW from 2035 onwards) and an increase in storage capacity with 2.4 GW installed by 2050. )
Figure 2. Installed power generation capacities in GW by 2053
In the scenario of ME, Bulgaria is expected to be heavily reliant on lignite production until 2025/30, before it is phased out by the mid-2030s. According to the ME, the scenario shows an energy mix in which Bulgaria achieves the decarbonization goals: -55% CO2 in 2030 compared to 1990 and emission-free energy generation in 2050.
The strategic vision for sustainable development of the electricity sector is published on the website of the Ministry of Energy: https://www.me.government.bg/news/ministerstvoto-na-energetikata-publikuva-strategicheska-viziya-za-ustoichivo-razvitie-na-elektroenergiiniya-sektor-3138.html?p=eyJ0eXBlIjoidGhlbWVuZXdzIn0