ECONOMY

Sofia to raise 2020 green energy usage

SOFIA – Bulgaria hopes to increase the share of renewable energy to 16 percent of total annual power consumption by 2020, the state power monopoly NEK said yesterday. Dimcho Kanev, head of NEK’s forecasting unit, told a conference that the share of renewable energy of total power production stood at 10 percent in 2006, most of which came from hydro-power plants and only 0.4 percent from wind turbines. The Balkan country, which joined the European Union last year, has not yet outlined a strategy on how it plans to meet an EU target to increase renewable energy to 20 percent by 2020 as part of the bloc’s efforts to fight climate change. Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov said last week that Bulgaria should push ahead with plans to build a new 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant rather than opt for wind and solar power to solve its energy problems. Bulgaria is among the EU countries which see nuclear energy as part of the future energy mix and a solution to climate change as proponents say atomic power emits almost no greenhouse gas emissions. NEK estimates show that Bulgaria’s wind power capacity equals some 2,000 MW, which could be reached in 2020 when wind power plants should produce half of the renewable energy. Bulgaria plans several new hydro-power and coal-fired plants with a total capacity of 1,665 MW by 2012 to make up for the planned closure of aging capacity, NEK says on its website. In 2006, nearly half of Bulgaria’s electricity came from coal plants, some 43 percent from nuclear power, and 10 percent from water and wind resources, NEK said. It could not provide data for 2007. Kanev said the Balkan country expects to increase its carbon dioxide emissions next decade from the 2005 level due to its rapidly growing economy that is catching up with richer Western countries.