Bulgaria’s government of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov adopted on September 29 a transition plan for the regions where the coal industry is located despite a new round of protests by miners who have blocked key roads.
The transition plan is required under Bulgaria’s recovery and resilience programme and Sofia had a deadline until the end of September to submit it in order not to lose around €1.8bn of funding.
The plan envisages the coal mines will work until 2038 and a just transition of the regions with coal industries, Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil.
Denkov discussed the plan with miners earlier in September when they held another protest and at the time an agreement was reached. Despite that, miners blocked key roads on September 29, demanding the government to give up on closing down the coal industry.
Denkov said at a press briefing that many of the protesters’ demands were based on false and distorted information.
He also said the government cannot postpone the submission of the plan as requested by trade unions and that the plan does not envisage dates for closure of specific coal plants. Instead, they will gradually be taken out of the energy system and be replaced by renewable energy.
Denkov also said the government is working on a plan for employment of workers from the coal industry. Social packages worth up to BGN150,000 per employee would be secured for those who wish to quit the energy industry.
Nearly 40% of the energy in Bulgaria is produced by coal-fired power plants with more than 95% of the fuel being lignite. The biggest coal-fired power plant is the state-owned Maritsa East 2 with capacity of 1.61 GW of the total 3.85 GW capacity of all coal-fired power plants.
These units have become increasingly important for the country’s energy stability since the end of April last year when Gazprom stopped deliveries of natural gas.