CEZ launches 5MW solar park in Bulgaria

SOFIA, May 10 (Reuters) - Czech power utility CEZ opened a 5.0 megawatt solar energy park in northern Bulgaria, its first investment in renewable energy in the Balkan country, the company said on Thursday.

CEZ, which controls power distribution in western Bulgaria and thermal power plant in the Black Sea city of Varna, said it plans to invest a total of 40 million euros ($51.73 million) in green energy projects in the country.

The new facility, near the north-west city of Vidin, is worth 10 million euros and is estimated to produce around 5,762 megawatts of green energy annually in the next 15 years, CEZ Bulgaria said in a statement.

“Our project is a step towards reaching the goal of the country to have 16 percent share of renewable energy in total energy consumption by 2020,” said Petr Dokladal, regional manager of CEZ in Bulgaria.

A number of investors including U.S. company AES, South Korea’s SDN and Austria’s EVN have rushed to take advantage of higher tariffs that Bulgaria began offering in 2007 for power output from renewable projects, with the costs passed through to consumers. ($1 = 0.7733 euros) (Reporting By Antoaneta Roussinova; editing by James Jukwey)