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Clean Energy, Decarbonization and Investments in the Energy Sector

Clean Energy, Decarbonization and Investments in the Energy Sector

Seminar – discussion
 “Clean Energy, Decarbonization and Investments in the Energy Sector“




1. The Seminar was organized by the Energy Management Institute and the Thracian University. Event complete agenda is available at EMI website https://www.emi-bg.com/events/clean-energy-decarbonization-and-investments-in-energy-sector-seminar/.

2. The total number of participants exceeded 50, including: trade union organizations, business associations and commercial companies, national universities, non-governmental organizations at national and regional level, academics, experts, media, etc.

3. Despite top representatives of five ministries were invited to take part at the event, there were no participants from government bodies. The only representative of the central government was the Deputy Governor of Stara Zagora.

4. Major highlights of the discussion with a focus on Maritsa Basin issues were related to:

  • Decarbonization of Bulgarian economy; to serve as discussion basis was a summary of a survey[1] on the same topic, financed by the AMCHAM and already presented at the highest government level[2];
  • Recovery and Resilience Plan of Republic of Bulgaria;
  • The role of coal in the energy security at global and European level to date; delivered was a designated presentation on the topic;
  • Energy security and investments (specific proposals for investment projects; the future of state-owned and private TPP; network development; use of alternative energy sources, etc.);
  • Undertaken and planned actions at regional and national level.

Participants presented their views on the energy sector ‘snapshot’ pertaining to the abovementioned topics as well as on the subsequent steps necessary to be taken on the part of state institutions and the opportunities for a proactive position of businesses, NGOs and other civil society representatives in that respect.


5. A general regret of state institutions absence (especially, the government through its respective ministers) at the discussion was expressed. This was deemed inexplicable in view of the current stage of energy sector development and the role of Maritsa Basin.

6. Discussion framework set by the Moderator was primarily focused on the following:

  • Regardless of the energy sector problems existing in the global, European, regional and national context, the Green Deal concept, in its entirety, shaped the basis for discussing the economy decarbonization matter. In that sense, it was recalled that the Deal did not refer to the energy sector alone, but represented a comprehensive platform for a long-term development of a new type of economy in Europe. It was also pointed out that despite the difficulties faced in the last two years (including COVID pandemic, electricity price rise, Russia-Ukraine war, etc.), the objectives regarding EU decarbonization were becoming even more ambitious and were actually showing even higher outcomes;
  • As an EU Member State, Bulgaria should be active in considering its national interests but this was a process, which should account also for European legislation requirements;
  • Coal-mining region development should be analyzed also from the perspective of the strong competition brought about by the fast-growing RES, observed to be a global trend and powerfully notable in EU; in parallel, the radical change in the nature of electricity markets, the energy efficiency role, the distinct trend towards shrinking fossil fuel consumption globally, along with fossil fuel diminishing role in the economic growth should not be forgotten;
  • The region could not rely on European financing associated with further use of coal;
  • Coal would certainly continue having an important role in country’s energy mix while facing a deepening competition with other energy sources (particularly, RES); additional pressure over coal would be exerted by the requirements for environmental protection and tackling climate change;
  • For the Maritsa Basin and the other coal-mining regions, timely actions involving reforms at national and regional level would be of particular importance in the context of energy security and energy sector social conditionality with the economic development of the country.

7. Seminar participants were particularly astonished that Stara Zagora District Governor, being a representative of the government at local level, turned out to be completely unfamiliar with the steps the government was undertaking for drafting territorial just transition plans, including the one for Maritsa Basin region.

8. This fact looked rather awkward at the backdrop of the recently announced readiness of the respective ministries to present such drafts for public consultations[3] by mid-2022.

9. In that respect, shared was a regret that territorial plan drafts were being prepared by certain ministries while isolating completely local stakeholders. Expressed was a concern that these drafts would be presented for review within timelines, which would hardly give room for an adequate reaction on the part of stakeholders.

10. The majority of participants verbalized their hope that coal would continue being used in the future for a timespan, affording adequate opportunities to reset local economy in a manner which would ensure jobs for workers and employees employed currently. In that sense, a comparison was made between the funds for restructuring to low-carbon economy, allocated under various European mechanisms, and the economic effect from the operations of companies mining or using local coal.

11. Another important discussion point focused on the notion that coal and other energy sources should not be regarded as mutually excluding alternatives in the process of economy decarbonization. However, for that purpose, a contemporary and comprehensive vision for sector development was required.

12. In relation to the above, it was clearly underlined that the topic of coal needed to be considered in the context of a renewed national energy policy, developed formally and laid down in the respective documents – energy strategy, national energy and climate plan, etc. In parallel, administrative capacity on the matters discussed should also be strengthened.

13. Numerous and concrete examples about the role of coal in the last two years were given to illustrate coal importance from the perspective of energy security and financial effects of coal use in electricity generation. Against this background, the main message conveyed was about ensuring a smooth transition towards other energy sources while bearing in mind the economic as well as essential social and demographic implications.

14. Participants communicated their expectations to have such a discussion conducted locally more often because it allowed for the business, NGOs, trade unions and other stakeholders to share their views in a more profound manner in the presence and with the involvement of more interested parties. Energy Management Institute took on the commitment to continue working towards meeting these expectations.

[1] https://amcham.bg/2022/02/17/amcham-bulgaria-is-readywith-its-energy-industry-decarbonization-report/

[2] Виж https://amcham.bg/2022/03/19/amcham-power-sector-decarbonization-study-presented-before-prime-minister-maritsa-east-mines/ etc.

[3] This readiness was explicitly stated by representatives of the Ministry of Energy during an on-line dialogue on Bulgarian energy sector development, organized by EC Representative Office in Sofia on 10 May 2022. The dialogue was between stakeholders and experts of DG “Energy”, European Commission.

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