Bulgaria set for massive growth in wind power

Recent wind-energy workshop attendees have been told that Bulgaria is set to dramatically expand its wind power output in the next 10 years. From the current 330 MW installed to over 3,000 MW by 2020, wind energy will meet 13.5 percent of Bulgaria’s electricity demand.

The workshop, organized by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in cooperation with the Bulgarian Association of Producers of Ecological Energy (APEE), pooled industry, government representatives, and national electricity companies together to discuss the potential for wind power development in the country.

“With installed capacity increasing more than fivefold in less than two years, Bulgaria is one of the fastest growing markets for wind energy in the world. Moreover, it has another 8,000 MW of wind projects in the pipeline. If current planning and grid access barriers are streamlined, Bulgaria will soon be one of Europe’s wind energy front-runners, reaping the economic benefits in the form of new jobs, reduced fuel import dependency and technology development,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA’s chief executive.

The EU directive establishing mandatory targets for renewable energy for all EU Member States requires Bulgaria to increase the amount of renewables in its energy mix to 16 percent by 2020, up from the current level of 9.4 percent. Bulgaria must submit its national action plan – outlining the measures it will take to boost renewable energy – by June 2010.

Kostadinka Todorova, director for Energy Efficiency and Environmental Protection at the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy, said that the administration is well on track to submit the first forecast document to the European Commission. “We are working on a new renewable energy law. Once in place, it will attract even more investment to the sector in Bulgaria,” she said.

“Bulgaria is well placed to exceed its target, which would allow it to create revenues by selling excess Bulgarian renewable energy production to Member States struggling to meet their targets. This could create revenues of 15-20 billion Leva by 2020 (EUR7.5-10bn),” said Velizar Kiriakov, APEE’s President

“Investors and developers have already shown strong interest – demonstrated by the fact that wind energy capacity will have doubled by the end of 2009 compared to the previous year,” added Kiriakov. “Wind energy offers highly workable solutions to the current triple-layered crisis – climate, financial and energy. Bulgaria must not miss the chance to create a new industry which will bring investments and create thousands of new jobs, curb CO2 emissions, and ease the dependency of the country from neighboring fuel exporting nations,” he concluded.

In 2008, 36 percent of all new electricity generating capacity built in the EU was wind power, ahead of coal, gas and nuclear. On average, 20 wind turbines were installed for every working day of 2008. By the end of 2008, a total of 160,000 workers were employed directly and indirectly in the sector, which saw investments of about 11 billion Euros in the EU.