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Bulgaria passes new renewables law but delays end of coal-fired generation

The Bulgarian National Assembly has greenlighted changes to the Energy from Renewable Sources Act, streamlining the permitting process for green energy production. In addition, the law designates specific areas for wind, solar, and hydropower projects, including offshore wind parks and floating photovoltaics, in line with the European Union’s REPowerEU legislation. Furthermore, the law encourages the use of renewable and synthetic fuels in transportation by adopting EU standards for guarantees of origin, including for gas from renewable sources and green hydrogen. These changes were a prerequisite for Bulgaria to access funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

In parallel, the Bulgarian government has decided to extend the operation of its coal-fired power plants until 2038 without specifying closure dates. This extension comes after Bulgarian lawmakers mandated renegotiations with the European Commission at the beginning of 2023, aiming to delay the coal-fired plants' phase-out by 12 years and revising commitments to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation by 40% by 2026, based on 2019 levels. The country is currently in negotiations with the European Commission to secure approval for revisions made to its territorial plans under the Just Transition mechanism for specific regions (Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil).

Bulgaria has an installed electricity capacity of nearly 14 GW (2022), which relies on lignite (4.4 GW, 32% of the capacity, including some coal), hydropower (3.2 GW, 23%), and nuclear (2 GW, 15%). Lignite and nuclear are the main sources of electricity production, with 43% and 33%, respectively, in 2022.

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