Bulgaria asks EU Commission for help to phase out coal - PM

Bulgaria asks EU Commission for help to phase out coal - PM

Bulgaria, which is is heavily dependent on coal for its electricity production, is proposing to work jointly with the European Commission towards developing a coal phase-out plan in order to meet the EU's emission reduction targets, prime minister Boyko Borissov said.

"We greatly support the fight against climate change, environmental protection, low-carbon emissions but at the same time we want to find a plan, together with the European Commission, for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe whose energy sector is largely based on coal," the government press office quoted Borissov as saying before the session of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday.

"Bulgaria is one of those countries - nearly 60% of our energy is produced from coal," Borissov said, noting that the country cannot meet the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than than 40% by 2030 on its own.

Earlier this week, the Commission invited Bulgaria to consider measures supporting a coal phase-out strategy with a clear timeframe commitment and ensuring a just transition of coal and lignite-reliant areas, to be accompanied by a clear strategy for promoting renewable energy and efforts towards reforming the energy market.

Bulgaria is one of four EU member states, along with Poland, Romania and Croatia, that have not planned any coal-phase out yet, according to the Commission's EU-wide assessment of national energy and climate plans (NECPs) published last month.

Bulgaria has no intention to shut down its coal-fired power plants due to the importance of locally-sourced coal for its energy sector, according to the country's draft strategy for sustainable energy development until 2030 prepared by the energy ministry and published on the parliament’s website in September. However, the country is targeting a further 2,645 MW of installed electricity generation capacity from renewable sources, mostly photovoltaic plants, by the end of 2030 under the draft strategy, in line with EU goals for green energy transition.

There are four coal-fired power plants in Bulgaria - Maritsa East 2, ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3, AES Galabovo and Bobov Dol. Those plants, with a total installed capacity of 3,848 MW, produced electricity equal to 39% of the country's gross electricity consumption last year, according to the draft strategy document.

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