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Bulgaria developing plans to phase out coal by 2040

Green Energy

The caretaker government of Bulgaria declared a U-turn with regard to the country's energy policy, disregarding the ongoing global energy crisis and the political turmoil that will result in the third general election this year, scheduled for November 14, according to balkangreenenergynews.com.

Minister of Energy Andrey Zhivkov revealed three scenarios are in play for the country's coal phaseout and that the next parliament would decide between 2035, 2038 and 2040.

His predecessor Temenuzhka Petkova claimed last year that Bulgaria wouldn't stop using coal before 2050 and former prime minister Boyko Borissov asked the European Commission for help in the process. In the meantime, a recent version of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan showed the possibility of a shutdown of the largest coal-fueled power plants by 2025, which would likely make further coal exploitation unprofitable.

Bulgaria's officials are preparing to submit the plan to the European Commission on October 15 and ask for EUR 840 million in gr ants and EUR 360 in cheap loans.

"The problem with the future of coal regions is a social one. In case of a possible closure of power plants and mines, we must give a positive signal for the future of people employed in these sectors," Zhivkov told public broadcaster BNR.

He also weighed on the global energy crisis and its implications on Bulgaria. The gas storage facility in Chiren is "about 70% full," Zhivkov said and stressed there is no risk of electricity or heating fuel shortage.

"Analysts predict prices would remain high – gas prices will subside only in the second quarter of 2022", the minister said.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the most affected by the spike in gas and power prices, Zhivkov said adding that the caretaker government has allocated EUR 330 million (USD 380.5 million) in electricity subsidies for all companies or EUR 26 per MWh to ease the pressure, but it is up to the next Parliament to decide. 

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