Advancing Bulgaria’s coal regions: updated territorial plans drive green transformation and economic growth

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works have developed and updated territorial plans to transition from coals in Stara Zagora, Pernik, and Kyustendil districts. These revised plans, after extensive discussions with stakeholders, will be submitted to the European Commission in September for approval by year-end. This approval is crucial for the regions’ access to 1.15 billion euros earmarked to support their transformation amidst the energy transition, as underscored by the Ministry of Energy.

As the low-carbon economy gains prominence, the decline in fossil fuel-based electricity generation is evident. A successful and seamless energy transition hinges on timely measures to cultivate new economic activities, ensuring sustainable, high-quality employment. The Territorial Just Transition Plans encompass various key measures such as land reclamation, fostering a hydrogen value chain, supporting clean technology industrial parks, promoting photovoltaic parks, green hydrogen utilization, and biomethane production, along with wind turbine energy distribution.

To address land reclamation from former lignite mining areas, the creation of a dedicated entity, the “Conversion of Coal Regions” company, is envisioned. This entity would also spearhead necessary infrastructure development for emerging industrial ventures. The strategy for supporting a hydrogen value chain aims to attract significant investments in electrolysis systems, fuel cells, charging stations, and associated facilities, fostering alternative employment opportunities and enabling a smooth energy transition. These Territorial Plans present a roadmap to effectively steer the transformation of heavily impacted coal regions.

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