Russia's invasion of Ukraine has increased the risks to Europe's energy and climate security. It has also clearly revealed the need for accelerating the energy transition in Europe. Bulgaria should not miss this train. The way forward is to unlock the cutting-edge technological innovations in all economic sectors with the goal of electrification via renewables, energy efficiency gains and the uptake of synthetic fuels and hydrogen in manufacturing processes. The complete liberalisation of the energy market is also a key step, which should, however, not be at the expense of the most vulnerable consumers.
These are some of the key takeaways from an international conference on “Unlocking Bulgaria’s Energy Innovation Potential for a Low Carbon Transition”, organized jointly by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea on 15 November 2022. The event brought together national and international experts in a discussion on the necessary policies for the uptake of Bulgaria’s low carbon transition and energy innovations.
Apart from the CSD experts, the conference was joined by H. E. Lee Ho-shik, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Dr. Ivan Ivanov, Chairman of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, Zhecho Stankov, Member of the Committee on Energy at the Bulgarian National Assembly, Han Minyoung, Deputy Director of the General Climate change, Energy, Environment and Scientific Affairs Bureau at the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Gazdov, Chairman of the Association for Production, Storage and Trading of Electricity, Ivaylo Naydenov, Executive Director of the Bulgarian Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers and Prof. Georgi Kastchiev, Director of the Bulgarian Nuclear Energy Regulator between 1997-2001.
The speakers outlined the main challenges and opportunities for Bulgaria’s energy transition and highlighted the need for investments in low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency. It was emphasized how security of supply, affordability and sustainability can be achieved by better integrating the current long-term energy strategies and conducting an ex-ante evaluation of the impact of the proposed policy instruments.
The speakers agreed that the regulatory framework needs to be updated, so that administrative and regulatory burdens for investors and consumers are reduced. The government has a responsibility to speed up the transposition of key European laws for energy efficiency and RES deployment. In addition, a key priority is the upgrade and expansion of the electricity grid with the goal of more easily accommodating the connection of large-scale renewable energy plants that are already planned. The achievement of the low-carbon transition is the cornerstone for the process of cost optimization for the system and for final consumers but not sacrificing energy market competition and energy affordability in the process.