The green transition must be done carefully and gradually, and must preserve the independence of energy sources, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said in a video address at the conference “The Green Deal – Innovation, Investment and a Just Transition” in Sofia.
Vassilev argued that looking at green energy as an ideology is very wrong for several reasons, some of them purely technical. “If we think solar and wind energy, we have to know that they cannot be used for baseload energy generation. When we need energy in the winter evenings, we need to have a way to store energy produced at other times, so that it can be used when we need it or have the capacity to take the load,” he explained. He also said that the cost of generating power from wind and solar has dropped a lot, but since they cannot serve for baseload generation, the cost of storing that power has to be added to the cost.
Vassilev also spoke about a need to improve connectivity between the national power grids so that energy can be used where it is needed when it is needed. “Peak consumption of electricity in Greece, for example, is in the summer, while in Bulgaria it is in the winter. The two systems can operate with less overall capacity, if they have better connectivity,” he added.
We need green energy that is independent but also to secure baseload capacities so as to make sure that the system is sustainable and at a price that is affordable for people, Vassilev added.
He expressed hope that the economy, not politics, would lead the country’s energy strategy. “Politics is just a tool to mobilize resources at the right time,” he said.
He also said: “Bulgaria has the potential to produce solar energy, but […] peak consumption in Bulgaria is during the winter nights when no solar energy is available. That is when we need coal-fired power plants. That is why the National Recovery and Resilience Plan provides for lowering the use of coal-fired power plants while keeping their full capacity so that they can be used when needed. For the same reason, we have the Chaira pumped-storage power station which allows us to store energy, and the national recovery plan includes projects for battery storage of electricity and for exploring the feasibility of geothermal energy, which is one of the few green energy options that can serve for generation of baseload electricity.