Bulgaria: protests against plans to phase out coal
The Bulgarian parliament decided at the end of September to phase out coal by 2038 — just in time to receive EU funds for the move away from fossil fuels. According to the plans, coal-fired power plants and coal mines will be gradually shut down and workers will receive compensation or be employed at a transitional state-run company. But miners and workers have been protesting for days now, blocking important motorways and demanding that the government resign.
Where else is the electricity supposed to come from?
Duma sides with the protesters:
“Twenty-seven thousand workers in the energy sector will lose their jobs, 4,277 megawatts of installed capacity will be shut down, and in return we get a paltry four billion leva [2.2 billion euros from the EU Regional Development Fund]. ... What redevelopment plans, what a just transition, what sustainability! This is a diabolical plan that will damage energy stability and the national interest. Shutting down coal-fired power plants will leave a hole in the energy balance. Who is going to fill it, and with what?”
Take the money before it’s too late
Coal will be obsolete by 2026 at the latest, e-vestnik counters:
“The coal phase-out is coming anyway, because coal is too expensive. As soon as the electricity market has been liberalised and there is no longer a state monopoly [as of 1 January 2026], all electricity providers will run away from the expensive coal-fired power plants. And in the meantime we are supposed to miss out on the 4 billion so the state can continue to buy electricity at high prices to preserve jobs.”
Not viable without subsidies
The coal industry has gone from being a systemically relevant pillar to a burden on society, the Bulgarian service of Deutsche Welle also stresses:
“If the supporters of the coal industry want to leave it unchanged until 2038, the rest of the population will have to decide whether they are willing to pay a carbon tax for it. Because in 2025 the coal subsidies via CO2 emission certificates will end, which means that both the mines and the coal-fired power plants will gradually be shut down as the electricity they generate becomes too expensive. As an example, in 2022 certificates for more than 1.7 billion leva [870 million euros] were purchased in order to continue operating the country’s largest thermal power plant, the state-owned Maritsa East 2 power plant.”