February 28, 2020 / 8:29 AM / a month ago

EBRD ready to support Bulgaria in shift from fossil fuels

SOFIA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is ready to help Bulgaria decarbonise its emission-intensive economy, its vice president said. Bulgaria supports the European Union bloc’s ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. But a shift from fossil fuels would pose a serious challenge to the Balkan country, which depends on coal-fired electricity plants.

Thermal power plants, working with local lignite coals, produce about 40% of Bulgaria’s electricity and provide jobs and livelihoods for more than 120,000 people in the country of 7 million, which is also the EU’s poorest member state.

“It is a very complex problem because still a lot of people work in the coal sector, so it is not something that can be done easily,” the EBRD vice president, Alain Pilloux, said late on Thursday.

“We would like to find a solution to eventually convert to gas a number of lignite coal-fired plants,” Pilloux said. “We would like to help put investment and jobs in the regions which could be affected by the decarbonisation.”

Bulgaria’s energy minister has said the country would rely on coal-fired generators at least until 2030. On Thursday, the government said the EU’s green deal should not come at the expense of growth.

According to estimates by climate action network Europe Beyond Coal, coal power plants were responsible for more than 650 premature deaths in Bulgaria in 2016.

$1 = 0.9201 euros Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Larry King

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