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Belene / Bulgaria Plans To Ask EU For Funding Under Just Transition Mechanism

By David Dalton
2 March 2020

Government says two new nuclear plants are part of plans for transition to low-carbon economy
Bulgaria Plans To Ask EU For Funding Under Just Transition Mechanism
The planned Belene nuclear station site in Bulgaria. Photo courtesy Belene Municipality.
The Bulgarian government will ask for help from the EU investing in new nuclear power at Belene under the bloc’s Just Transition Mechanism, a government position paper says.

The JTM will focus on regions and sectors that are most affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy because of their dependence on fossil fuels. A just transition fund will be used to support territories most affected by the transition towards climate neutrality and avoid regional disparities growing, the European Commission said when it announced the funding last month.

The JTM is one element of the bloc’s Green Deal proposals, which set out ambitious climate and environmental objectives as part of Europe’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050.

However, the European Commission plans to exclude new nuclear plant projects from receiving money from the just transition fund, which is one of the main financing sources under the JTM.

Press reports in Bulgaria said the government’s position paper outlines its “overall support” for the Green Deal but calls for more to be done to help the most affected countries – including Bulgaria – with the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The position paper is reported to reject Europe’s plans to lower carbon emissions by 50-55% by 2030 compared to 1999. Bulgaria will instead maintain the 40% reduction agreed in the 2015 Paris agreement.

According to the press reports, the government supports the Green Deal in general, but says the costs involved – possibly as high as €45bn including €10bn for two new Belene units – in switching to approved forms of energy generation will bring an increase in electricity prices, which will hit the the economy. Nearly every sector of the economy affected by the Green Deal will need financial aid to help it through the transition, the position paper says.

In the paper the government says two new nuclear power plants at Belene are part of its plans for the period of transition to a low-carbon economy.

The facility could be operational in 10 years. Bulgaria plans to choose investors by 22 May 2020 to build and operate two Russian-made VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor units at the site on the Danube River.

At an economic forum in Sofia Last month deputy prime minister Tomislav Donchev suggested the Green Deal increases the need for new nuclear at Belene.

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