Bulgaria Solar Energy Market

Bulgaria has a high potential for solar irradiation notably in the southern part of the country. From figure 1 it can be seen the southern part of the country generally receives higher irradiation compared to the northern part of the country. The country started its renewable energy expansion in 2007 with most of it being hydropower. Solar power installation started in 2009 and reached a total of 100 Megawatts (MW) in 2011, since then however newer installations have come to a halt with only about 12 MW installed between 2013 and 2014 and the capacity hasn’t increased much till 2020.

Figure 1 : Bulgaria Photovoltaic Potential Source: World Bank Map, SolarGIS

According to the Hydrology and Meteorology (IHM) of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) has estimated the solar energy potential of the country, which is around 12,995 million metric tons of oil equivalent. It has been estimated that the county has never used the solar capacity to its full potential at all. Such a high potential is expected to provide solar energy companies a significant opportunity to tap into this market in the future. The downside is the higher installation costs which have been preventing companies to tap into the market. To overcome this barrier the government is updating its policy to promote investments.  As a part of the EU’s ambitious plans to become carbon neutral by 2050, Bulgaria is trying to promote low tax rates, low land prices, and favorable policies for installation for renewable energy sources in general Bulgaria started its renewable energy expansion in 2007.

Figure 3: Renewable Capacity 2020 , Bulgaria. Source: IRENA

Figure 3: Renewable Capacity 2020, Bulgaria.
Source: IRENA

From figure 3 it can be seen, hydropower makes more than 50% of the renewable capacity generation. Non-hydropower makes about 2.3 GW of Bulgaria's 12.6 GW power generation fleet. In 2021, a Bulgarian developer won a tender launched in late 2019 It will build a 50 MW solar plant. The site used to be a former coal power plant near Kicevo, North Macedonia. According to the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), the country had 94 MW of installed PV capacity in 2020 in total.  Last year Bulgaria installed a capacity of 77 MW of solar energy so far Bulgaria has added 1100 MW of Solar energy it aims to increase its capacity of over 2500 MW by 2024, Bulgaria is targeting a further 2,645 MW of installed electricity generation capacity from renewable sources, mostly photovoltaic plants, by the end of 2030. The capacity would include around 2.3 GW of solar and wind projects. This is done in line with the EU's goals for the green energy transition. According to the Association for production, storage and trading of electricity (APSTE) which was founded by Bulgaria and other international companies in 2019, the country has the potential of adding 4650 MW of solar capacity by 2030 and bringing the share of the country’s renewable energy sources to 58% of the total mix which includes offshore wind farms and other renewable sources.  The largest installed solar facility is The Karadzhalovo Solar Park which has a capacity of 60.4 MW. The solar park got commissioned in March 2012. Karadzhalovo Solar Park is a ground-mounted solar project which is spread over an area of 100 hectares. The solar farm generates 81,000 MW of electricity and supplies clean energy to nearly more than 20000 households. This offsets more than 40000 CO­2 emissions a year.

Figure 4: Karadzhalovo Solar Park, Bulgaria

Bulgaria is on its way to supporting new renewable installations and lawmakers have already adopted a series of amendments to the Bulgarian Energy Act, which boosts support for new renewable energy projects. They have also reintroduced the feed-in–tariff payments for rooftop PV, all these new policies and amendments are made in hopes of reviving the nation's solar sector after years of limited growth.

By AE Solar Tier 1 manufacturer company

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