Europe 2020 targets - Bulgaria

BULGARIA: According to the Bulgarian National Renewable Energy Action Plan, the country should exceed its target of 16% of energy consumption from renewable sources in 2020 by nearly 3%. The reality, however, is that Bulgaria's goals for wind energy are uninspiring. Unless the targets laid out in the plan are beefed up, the Association of Producers of Ecological Energy, APEE, has warned that it could even miss the 16%.

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The country’s target of 1.25GW of installed wind capacity, all of it onshore, is well below that of the most pessimistic estimates of its potential. In a 2020 roadmap published in October 2010, APEE forecast that more than 3.2GW in wind farms, including 67MW offshore, could be producing 7.949TWh of electricity in 2020. The action plan talks of limited wind resources and low productivity for wind farms but developers disagree.   

Industry associations believe that the government has underestimated the country’s likely electricity consumption in 2020 and this means additional wind capacity will be needed. APEE also says the national plan overestimates potential for hydroelectric and biomass.

This does not mean that more ambitious targets for wind could be met with ease. Even the current targets, which would see an annual growth of about 88MW over the next decade compared with 73.4MW over the past five years, mean a key priority must be the grid. 

Grid concerns

"Wind farms in Bulgaria are concentrated in an area that is underserved by the grid," notes Ken Lefkowitz, chairman of the supervisory board of the Bulgarian Wind Energy Association. "There have already been power curtailments." These curtailments, which came despite installed capacity being just 375MW at the end of 2010, have a negative impact on investment returns. 

Market players are waiting to see what conditions will be established for wind development — including details of the future incentive scheme — in a renewable energy law under discussion by the government. A stable market framework for investors and a simplified authorisation process are important outcomes. The current incentive scheme is seen as a sufficient basis for investments, although the feed-in tariff is set on a yearly basis. 

APEE policy co-ordinator Zornitsa Pavlova says: "To create a lucrative investment environment we need grid development, the creation of an electricity exchange market and, above all, transparency in the sector."

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