Country Listing

Bulgaria Table of Contents


Conventional Power Generation

Besides the pollution caused by burning domestic coal, about 1,500 megawatts of Bulgaria's thermoelectric generation capacity was idle in the late 1980s because of inefficient fuel delivery or equipment breakdown. About half the capacity of local heat and power plants, relied upon to supplement major electrical plants and provide heat for industries and homes, was unavailable for the same reasons.

In the early 1990s, Bulgarian energy planners faced serious dilemmas. At the Maritsa-iztok-1, Maritsa-iztok-2 and Dimo Dichev thermoelectric plants, located in the Maritsa-iztok coal fields, long-term plans called for gradual replacement of old generating equipment in existing stations. But most such projects were far behind schedule in 1990. The 1990 decision not to complete the Belene Nuclear Power Plant meant increased reliance on Maritsaiztok coal for heat and power generation. In 1990 that spurce provided 70 percent of the country's coal, and its three power stations contributed about 25 percent of total power generation.

The Maritsa-iztok Industrial-Power Complex (with its machine building and repair enterprises one of the largest industrial centers in Bulgaria, employing 22,000 people in 1991) had been in operation since 1951; by 1991 the quality of its coal and the reliability of its infrastructure were steadily declining. But at that crisis point in the national economy, funds were unavailable for capital investment, especially to buy expensive foreign technology (see Market Reform , this ch.). At the same time, industry authorities acknowledged burning high-sulfur coal and strip mining at Maritsa-iztok as a severe environmental problem whose amelioration would cost at least a billion leva, mostly hard currency.

Hydroelectric power generation was concentrated in southwestern Bulgaria, but few Bulgarian rivers offered large-scale hydroelectric potential. The major hydroelectric project in the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1986-90) was completion of the Chaira station, which would add 864 megawatts of generating capacity. Development of local hydroelectric stations on small streams was a planning priority for the 1990s.

Data as of June 1992