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    Bulgarian coal plant to add 550 MW of gas capacity


One of the gas-fired units will be capable of running partly on hydrogen.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Bulgarian coal plant to add 550 MW of gas capacity

Bulgaria's Varna coal-burning thermal power plant (TPP) revealed a plan on June 2 to add two new 275-MW gas-fired generation units by early 2025 at a cost of €450mn ($545mn).

The station, formerly owned by Czech energy group CEZ but sold to Bulgarian logistics company SIGDA in 2017, has a current capacity of 630 MW but this would rise to almost 1.2 GW under the expansion. It has signed a contract with Russian energy companies Rakityansky Armature Plant, Pipe Metallurgical Co and Atomenergomas to undertake the project using technology supplied by German turbine manufacturer Siemens.

The new units will be placed on the site of previous coal-fired units built in the 1960s and 1970s and already decommissioned. One of them will be capable of running on a mix of methane with up to 30% hydrogen.

Bulgaria generates most of its power using coal and its government is yet to announce a national plan to phase out the fuel's use despite mounting pressure from the EU over the country's emissions. This said, Bulgarian energy firm Grand Energy announced in May it would convert the 600-MW Bobov Dol TPP to gas and hydrogen by 2025. But other major stations, including the state-owned 1.6-GW Maritsa East 2, ContourGlobal's 908-MW Maritsa East-3 and AES' 670-MW Maritsa East 1, are yet to adopt such plans.

Bulgaria is enjoying diversified access to gas with the start up of gas from TurkStream and a cross-border pipeline with Greece, but that project is understood to be running behind schedule.