Bulgarian Govt Looks to Stifle Renewables Frenzy

Views on BG | April 8, 2010, Thursday // 14:42|  views

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Karl-Erik Stromsta


The Bulgarian government has proposed halting construction of all wind and solar projects built on farmland, claiming the bonanza of renewables investment over the past two years threatens to destabilise the country's grid and inflate energy prices for some of Europe’s poorest consumers.

But critics counter that the proposal, which requires parliamentary approval, is merely a reflection of the local utilities’ and grid operators’ animus towards renewables, which can erode their profit margins.

In February, the Czech Republic’s dominant power utility, CEZ, pulled the plug on all new wind and solar projects, igniting a war of words between the country’s booming renewables sector and those controlling its Soviet-era energy infrastructure.

Bulgaria faces the same predicament as other eastern EU nations. Relying heavily on its ageing coal-fired and nuclear power plants for its energy supplies, Bulgaria must boost the share of renewables in its energy mix to 16% by 2020 to meet the EU’s legally binding directive, while keeping energy prices low enough to protect its fragile economy.

Like the Czech Republic and Romania, Bulgaria has intentionally stoked a frenzy of renewables investment through a generous incentive scheme, with most of the money coming from foreign investors.

Bulgaria more than tripled its installed wind capacity last year to 330 megawatts, and has more than 12 gigawatts of projects awaiting approval, in excess of its total grid capacity, according to press reports.

Inevitably, a backlash has emerged, with some politicians claiming the higher cost of green electricity is not worth the potential damage to the country's economy. In announcing its proposal, the government wrote: “The goal is to achieve a better balance between protecting the arable land and the need of the investment growth.”

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Tags: wind, Solar, renewable


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