- /1 Introduction
Bulgaria has high energy intensiveness of GDP, 89%, higher than the EU average (considering the parity of the purchasing power). High dependency on energy resource imports, especially the dependency on natural gas, crude oil and nuclear fuel imports is full and totally has one country, the Russian Federation . Russia and Bulgaria have good relations coming from history and longstanding personal ties. However, some analysts have expressed concern about Russia’s dominance in Bulgaria’s energy sector. Bulgaria is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its oil and natural gas needs. Russian firms own major oil refineries, a key commercial natural gas distribution company, and many retail gasoline stations in Bulgaria. As in other countries in Central Europe, some analysts are concerned that Russia could use this control and its links with some politicians and business leaders to manipulate the country .
Bulgaria is a European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member and the possibility of the Russian Federation’s tendency to use energy for political influence in the future will not bring good results not only for Bulgaria but also Europe’s security. Unless some measures do not taken to decrease this dependency, energy security will be the greatest security challenge for Bulgaria in the future. From this point of view, this paper aims to show impacts of energy security in Bulgaria in 2030 and to suggest a series of measures to be undertaken to make the country more efficient in energy management and less dependent on one country, especially on Russia, to avoid Russia’s tendency using this as a political influence in the future, and so, ways to mitigate this challenge.
2 IMPACTS OF ENERGY SECURITY IN BULGARIA IN 2030
2.1 Economic Situation of Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a former communist country that entered the EU in 2007. It has an open economy that shows remarkable growth historically. However, its per-capita income remains one of the lowest among EU members and its reliance on energy imports and foreign demand for its exports makes its growth sensitive to external market conditions . There are some external factors (such as global climate change and the related EU binding targets on capping greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing energy intensity and increasing the share of renewable energy sources (RES) political pressures caused by foreign geopolitical and economic interests) that put pressure on Bulgarian policy makers to pay special attention to the energy sector.
2.2 Importance of Energy Independency
Energy has a critical importance on any economy. Energy resources, especially oil, gas and electricity are critical to a growing nation. Economic and social welfare depends on safe, continuous, affordable and dependable supplies of energy for all nations. It can be said obviously that the question of energy security is not just a question of economic security, but of national security as well . World energy use increases remarkably due to high-level technologic and industrial improvements and there is an urgent need for international cooperation to provide safe, sustainable and easily obtainable energy sources having critical importance to the industry and developing countries. Energy use seems to double in the next twenty years. Energy resources of the earth are sufficient to meet the needs until 2030. Reserves of fossil fuels are not expected to decrease by 2030 and for some time afterwards. So, natural gas will become critically important as a raw material in the future. As a result, it is expected that “the Middle East and North Africa will remain the largest producers, while at the same time the importance of the Caspian Region, West Asia, the Gulf of Guinea, Russia and North Africa will increase and therefore stability and security will be more important in this area. Energy security is an issue of increasing importance as energy producers showed some tendency to use oil and gas for political influence.” As mentioned before, Bulgaria is highly dependent for its energy supplies on foreign sources, especially Russian gas. The 2020 Energy Strategy of Bulgaria “shows energy dependency of up to 70%, which is much higher than the figures given by Eurostat (46%). This is due to different methodology, which counts nuclear energy production as indigenous. However, considering that the only supplier of nuclear fuel, with long-term binding contracts is Russia, then the 70% figure seems more realistic.”
As a result, if some serious measures do not taken by Bulgaria, energy security will be a big problem for national security in the future. So, the main purpose of the following chapter is to show which measures should be taken to mitigate this challenge.
3 WAYS TO MITIGATE ENERGY SECURITY CHALLENGE IN BULGARIA
Ministry of Energy of Bulgaria developed an energy strategy and some measures have being taken. These efforts should be decisively proceeded. However, Bulgaria should continually search for new and more efficient measures to guarantee the energy security of the country. In this chapter of the paper, it will be tried to summarize some of these measures that are more important and urgent to be applied.
3.1 Diversification of the Energy Sources and Routes
It is important for the country’s national security and energy independence to diversify of the energy sources and routes for supply of especially natural gas. It is also possible building of terminals for liquefied and compressed natural gas, inclusive of Bulgaria’s participation in neighbor countries’ projects. Bulgaria should make best efforts to build reverse interconnections with Greece, Turkey, Serbia and Romania and look for possibilities for extension of the existing gas storage at Chiren, as well as for building of a new storage.
3.2 Preservation and Development of the Coal Industry
It should be given importance to preservation and development of the coal industry with the environmental protection standards. So, an efficient utilization of the indigenous energy resources can be achieved. It is essential for the national energy strategy from the viewpoint of security and sustainability. The state should support the coal-fired power plants using necessarily up-to-date highly efficient and low-emission carbon capture and storage technologies, supporting for full compliance with all environmental requirements, including the restrictions for admissible limits of harmful emissions (sulphur, nitrogen oxides and dust). And in addition, international support should be sought for projects for construction of new and/or replacing capacities, operated on the basis of indigenous coal.
3.3 Searching for Renewable Energy Sources
RES are being important indigenous inexhaustible resources and they will gain a high priority of the national energy policy. The hydro-power potential of Bulgaria, as well as the other sources of clean energy (wind, solar, geothermal water, and biomass) should be used to the maximum level in the total final energy demand of the country in the future. The state and the municipalities should engage actively in the achievement of that target. They should support the private initiatives in the process of increasing the energy self-sufficiency of public and residential buildings by means of modernizing and reduction of energy costs by using RES.
3.4 Development of Nuclear Energy
Bulgaria should further support and encourage the development of nuclear energy in search of the reasonable balance between the available energy resource in the country and the European clean energy objectives. And also, a national storage for low and medium radioactive waste and a dry storage for spent nuclear fuel in conformity with the best international standards should be constructed.
3.5 Energy Saving
Energy saving is also very important for application and a reliable way for achievement of the European target for 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. So, the efforts of Bulgaria should be directed to improvement of the efficiency in the generation of electrical and heat energy, reduction of energy transmission and distribution losses, earlier use of more economical vehicles and more intensive use of the public transport, timely improvement of the energy characteristics of the existing buildings and introduction of stricter energy standards for newly constructed buildings, including energy self-sufficient buildings. Preservation of the centralized district heating also should remain a priority, in which case the companies should be technically modernized and financially stabilized. The methods for highly efficient co-generation of heat and electric power should be actively supported.
3.6 Financial Support for Research and Development in the Energy Sector
Bulgaria should seek financial support through facilitation of investors’ access to scientific development works, as well as through specialized credit lines and facilities from European funds and programs in order to enhance research and development in the energy sector. The generation and use of energy from RES and investments in new balancing power plants should be supported with funds raised by bids for greenhouse gas emission allowances and by other financial sources and fiscal instruments.
In order to avoid some negative impacts of energy dependency and high energy intensiveness of GDP in the future, Bulgaria should provide a series of measures such as building an efficient Energy Security Strategy; maintaining of a safe, stable and reliable energy system; diversifying of energy sources suppliers and routes, searching for easily obtainable and sustainable RES, decreasing the dramatic differences of energy efficiency between Bulgaria and the other EU member states and maintaining common efforts between the institutions, business and the research community.
Bulgaria should decidedly continue not only applying all the above mentioned measures but also searching for new and more efficient measures to provide energy security of the country, as well. By this way, Bulgaria can achieve of a safe, stable and sustainable energy system based on modern technologies. This will also make possible the use of resources available in the country and as a result national security of Bulgaria will be ensured.
I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.