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Decarbonising the Bulgarian Power Sector

Resolving the Coal Phase-Out – Security of Supply Conundrum

Compared to its peers in Central and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria has been hesitant and slow in utilizing the opportunities to decarbonise its energy sector and economy through the ambitious policy and financial initiatives for climate neutrality of the European Union’s (EU). The Bulgarian government has been among the last in the EU to adopt its National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), which commits billions of euros of EU funding for supporting government pledges for reforms and decarbonisation of the energy sector. A core commitment under the NRRP has been the establishment of the Energy Transition Commission (ETC). The ETC has been tasked to develop a detailed assessment of two scenarios for a coal phaseout until 2030 (early) and until 2038 (late) as a basis for the development of a climate neutrality roadmap until 2050. Yet, reaching a convincing consensual decision from the ETC’s work has been elusive.

This report aims to aid the development of the long-term decarbonisation framework by presenting the key policy findings from a comprehensive modelling assessment of the Bulgarian power sector until 2050, conducted by the Center for the Study of Democracy in partnership with the Regional Center for Energy Policy Research (REKK). The study can be seen as a sensitivity analysis that aims to validate and crosscheck the assumptions and conclusions of the final report, prepared by the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy unsuccessfully reflecting the discussions within the ETC. The analysis reveals that the Bulgarian economy is fully capable to achieve carbon neutrality until 2050 without considerable increase in electricity prices, increased gas capacity and/or coal power generation. On the basis of this, it proposes a list of short and long-term policy actions, which could enable the unlocking of Bulgaria’s decarbonisation potential in the most contentious power supply segment.

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