Bulgarian minister prefers nuclear to wind, solar

28 February 2008

[Reuters, 28 February] Bulgaria's economy and energy minister, Petar Dimitrov, has said that the country should push ahead with plans to construct the new Belene nuclear power plant rather than opt for wind or solar power to solve its energy problems. Speaking at a conference, Dimitrov said that estimates show that Bulgaria's wind power potential was equal to the capacity of 2000 MWe of its Kozloduy nuclear power plant, which supplies some 33% of the country's electricity. According to Dimitrov, "It's more important for Bulgaria to build Belene rather than cover the country with wind turbines and solar panels." A contract to construct the Belene plant was signed with Russia's Atomstroyexport (ASE) in January 2008. The first new unit is expected on line by 2014. Dimitrov did not say exactly how Bulgaria would meet the EU target to boost renewable energy's share to 20% of all electricity by 2020. He did, however, say that Bulgaria should rely on its hydro-power potential to meet increasing energy demand. Dimitrov noted that Bulgaria has yet to decide whether to build a new coal-fired plant of between 600 and 800 MW at its Maritsa East power complex, which currently provides some 30% of the country's electricity.