The Green Deal has no alternative and it must happen, said President Rumen Radev, who opened an international conference Green Transition 2022: “The Green Deal – Innovation, Investment and a Just Transition” organized by Dir.bg and 3E-news.
The president noted that the forum was being held “in interesting times” – acute geopolitical confrontation, acute social and economic crisis and galloping inflation. He noted that the debate on the green deal goes far beyond talking about a clean environment, preserving biodiversity and attracting investment in this area.
The stakes here are much higher – for the level of our ambitions and future as EU and member states, Radev noted.
The Green Deal has no alternative and it absolutely must happen. But it is an ongoing and comprehensive process of profound economic, social and personal transformation. It is a new way of producing and consuming energy, goods and services. It is a new way of spending leisure time and treating the environment. And not least a change in the way we get around. It is all one complex. This is a huge opportunity for a profound modernisation of our societies, the Head of State added.
The risks according to Radev
Based on his participation in the EU councils, where last year there were heated debates about the energy crisis and transition, Radev has formulated several risks concerning the green transition.
“First and foremost it’s the risk of high speed. There are areas, like aviation, where speed is life, but there are also areas where speed can be a disaster. The big goal is to get to clean energy quickly. We have heard calls to move away from baseload power – and there are three – nuclear, coal and gas. At the same time, we have the urge to do it without clear technological solutions to the biggest problem – energy storage. In my view, whoever can achieve a financially, rationally and technologically feasible solution for energy storage – he will hold the key to the future,” the President was adamant.
According to him, the other risk is from excessive ambitions. “For the first quarter, the average price of electricity is about 250 euros per megawatt-hour. And in the US it’s €65 and in China it’s about €10 for the same period. And we have to find the exact reasons why in Europe the electricity price is many times higher. If we do not find an answer, it means that in the medium term we will lose our competitiveness,” Radev said. He noted that we cannot be satisfied with the fact that Europe ranks fifth in patents after China, the US, South Korea and Japan.
“This means that in the long run we will be losers. I very much hope that the measures taken by Brussels and the ambitious Horizon Europe package for investment in science will give a decisive impulse in this direction,” he added.
According to Radev, social risk is also important “because we risk the poor becoming even poorer”. As another risk he pointed to a loss of confidence in the green transition. This is extremely dangerous. And we must eliminate all signals that lead to a loss of trust,” the president added.
The risks are many, but so are the opportunities, Rumen Radev noted. According to him, we should preserve the autonomy of our energy system, use all opportunities for renewable sources, such as water, geothermal energy, solar energy, etc. He said that Bulgarian achievements in NPP and our scientific achievements should be preserved. He noted that there is no national energy strategy. Radev drew attention to the fact that Romania is already building wind farms in the Black Sea, while we have not yet made our legislation. He also noted that the possibilities of energy production from the Danube River should be used, whether we will have a carbon capture plant, what will be the installations for electricity storage, whether the planned 6 MW installations planned by the government or there will be new PAHPs. He also mentioned the projects to set up an energy park in the Maritsa East region producing solar energy and storage and the green hydrogen energy storage project.
We need to have the infrastructure to export the vast amount of green hydrogen that our country can produce and have an industry that can produce green hydrogen. We need to develop the capacity to use green hydrogen.
“Portugal has a comprehensive approach to green hydrogen – developing an industry that will use it. The cycle needs to be closed. There are many opportunities, but financial resources are limited. But I believe that with forums like this, we will open a debate on where we want to go and find the right approach. Because this is an opportunity to modernise our societies,” Rumen Radev concluded.
The President pointed out that the war in Ukraine has highlighted the problem of diversification.
“The transition to a workable diversification will not be cheap, but it is necessary. Even if it is not for the sake of war, for the sake of minimizing any surprises in the future. The number of LNG terminals is small, and at the same time building them is difficult and involves bureaucratic hurdles. And Europe’s internal transport network for energy transmission has not been deployed. I give an example – there is no gas pipeline between Spain and Italy,” Radev responded to a question by moderator Gergana Passy, who asked him about the impact of the war.