October 28, 2010 / 1:10 PM / 10 years ago

Bulgaria could miss green energy targets: industry

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria is likely to miss its green energy targets due to unrealistic forecasts for power production from hydropower plants and biomass, an industry report showed on Thursday.

The European Union member has pledged to boost the share of renewable energy to 11 percent of total energy consumption in 2011 and to 16 percent by 2020 and sent to Brussels an action plan outlining how it will hit green power goals.

“Bulgaria is definitely not going to meet its 2011 target and unless it boosts wind and solar power capacity, it would miss its 2020 target too,” Momchil Merkulov of the Association of Producers of Ecological Energy (APEE) told Reuters.

Sofia sees power production from hydro assets in the Balkan country increasing to 3.95 GWh in 2020 from 3.26 GWh this year, but the association argued climate forecasts for decreasing rainfalls over the next 10 years make the estimate unrealistic.

It also contested the government’s expectations of biomass for heating, saying they are projected at levels well above the country’s potential and suggested Bulgaria should increase the share of wind and solar energy to meet its commitments.

Energy Minister Traicho Traikov defended the plan on Thursday and said Sofia would promote green energy but would also try to avoid a spike in energy prices in the EU’s poorest member state as well as a collapse of the aging power grid.

“It is absolutely certain that Bulgaria will meet its targets. We are working however to meet these targets at any cost, but at affordable price,” Traikov said.

Dozens of Austrian, Spanish, American and German companies have rushed to build new wind and solar energy plants, bringing the wind farm capacity to 336 megawatts (MW) this year from 103 MW in 2008 and solar to 9 MW from 1.4 MW two years ago.

Bulgaria has offered lucrative incentives to investors in renewable energy, creating a boom in green energy supply which officials say could cause blackouts on the national grid.

The government has already introduced tighter rules for new wind and solar power plants and is now preparing a new law which aims to put caps on new renewable energy assets.

It sees wind farm installed capacity at 1,250 GW and solar at 330 MW by 2020. The industry association says the country should have 3,230 MW of wind farm installed capacity and 1,500 MW of solar by 2020.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by James Jukwey

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