Bulgarian Cabinet approves renewable energy plan, offshore drilling tender

In separate decisions on January 9, Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved a long-term renewable energy development plan, setting out targets for 2020 and a series of measures to meet those goals, and authorised the start of a tender for drilling rights on a large section of its Black Sea shelf.

The renewable energy national plan sets a goal of 16 per cent of domestic energy consumption coming from renewable sources, the same one set in the EU’s 2020 plan to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and encourage the use of renewables.

By 2020, Bulgaria should produce 20.8 per cent of its electricity and 23.8 per cent of its heating/air conditioning from renewable energy, which should also account for 10.8 per cent of transport use, according to the plan passed by the Government.

“To reach these goals, the plan envisions 58 measures to encourage production, taking into account the impact of increased energy efficiency and the introduction of more energy-efficient technologies,” the Cabinet’s media service said in a statement. “The measures include the implementation of European requirements in the area of renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and climate change, measures that are in their nature administrative, legislative, regulatory, financial and informational.”

In terms of electricity generation, the plan envisions Bulgaria having about 5.2GW installed capacity of renewable energy installations by 2020, generating an annual 7600 GWh. Hydro-powered plants are seen as generating the bulk of electricity from renewable sources (63 per cent), followed by wind power (28 per cent), solar power (six per cent) and biomass (three per cent).

The Cabinet also approved the tender to award drilling rights for the Sveta Marina 1-23 block covering about 1600 sq km in Bulgaria’s exclusive economic rights area of the Black Sea. The license would cover both oil and gas exploration and would be awarded for a period of five years.

A tender notice would be published both in Bulgaria’s State Gazette and the Official Journal of the European Union.

Last year, Bulgaria awarded a similar license for the larger Khan Asparoukh 1-21 block, covering 14 400 sq km, to French firm Total, which will explore the area together with Austria’s OMV and Spain’s Repsol. Total agreed to pay its 40 million euro fee up front and the consortium is expected to invest more than one billion euro over the period, mainly in two high-depth oil and gas wells, into exploration.

Neighbouring Romania estimates gas reserves ranging from 40 billion to 80 billion cubic metres in its own Black Sea shelf near the Khan Asparoukh block, which Bulgaria hopes will hold comparable amounts. If those hopes are proven true, it would go a long way towards ensuring Bulgaria’s energy independence, Bulgarian officials have said.

(Photo: veetec/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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