Doubling electricity production is a key step towards hydrogen production

In an exclusive statement during the prestigious Green Week 2023 forum held at Bulgaria, Sofia, Bogomil Manchev, the esteemed chairman of the Bulgarian Atomic Forum (Bulatom), expressed his belief that electricity production must be doubled to meet the increasing demand for hydrogen. Manchev highlighted the crucial role of combining nuclear power with renewable energy sources in paving the way for a sustainable and green future.

At the heart of the discussion was the importance of energy connectivity and the transformation of essential energy capacities, not only at the domestic level but also regionally and across Europe. The visionary Manchev spoke passionately about the need to embrace nuclear energy as a major regulator of energy systems, both at the European and global levels. “We do not rule out any way of obtaining energy – be it green energy or natural gas,” Manchev stated unequivocally.

Highlighting the inefficiency of hydrocarbons, Manchev drew a comparison to emphasize the need for alternative energy sources. He pointed out that removing hydrocarbons, such as coal, from the equation would require the installation of five megawatts of solar or four megawatts of wind power to match the output of one megawatt of nuclear power, which produces around 6000 MWh per year. This underscores the necessity of expanding the grid capacity by two and a half times to accommodate the increased energy generation.

Bulatom firmly believes that Bulgaria’s focus should be on enhancing energy efficiency rather than simply increasing electricity consumption. Manchev stressed the need to produce an additional megawatt hour of electricity while doubling overall electricity production. This, he asserted, would be pivotal in meeting the growing demand for hydrogen in various sectors such as transportation, industry, and the rising number of electric vehicles, which contribute to reducing harmful emissions.

Manchev also shed light on the significance of energy connectivity in relation to nuclear power. He explained how the new generation of reactors can contribute up to 70% of their own power to the system within a minute, offering unparalleled regulation capabilities without compromising fuel integrity.

Presenting Bulatom’s ambitious vision to the 48th National Assembly, Manchev outlined plans for large electrolyzer installations at the Kozloduy and Belene sites. These installations would allow hydrogen production without sacrificing power output, enabling diverse energy sources to contribute equally to the energy grid. However, Manchev expressed concerns about the impact of zero-priced hydrogen on potential investors, underscoring the need for an equitable market environment.

Enhancing energy connectivity emerged as a critical task for Bulgaria. Manchev outlined several key objectives, including doubling the capacity of the electricity grid, generating hydrogen for integration into gas pipelines, and significantly expanding the transmission capacity of both gas pipelines and electricity grids between neighboring countries. To support his argument, Manchev cited a visionary project proposed by the French company EDF over two decades ago. The project involved constructing an extensive ring, spanning thousands of kilometers, capable of transmitting up to 5000 megawatts of active power. The addition of energy storage facilities along the route would enable efficient energy transmission and distribution.

Undoubtedly, nuclear energy holds a central position in Europe’s energy connectivity goals for the forthcoming decades. Despite acknowledging the challenges associated with constructing large-scale nuclear power plants, such as cost and political support, Manchev emphasized the need for the Bulgarian government and policymakers to determine the capacities to be built on the country’s nuclear sites. He further stressed the importance of encouraging private investment in solar, wind, and electrolysis projects, while emphasizing the state’s responsibility in managing significant landfills like PAVETS.

Bogomil Manchev’s insightful statements resonate with the urgency of doubling electricity production and embracing nuclear power as a key component of Europe’s green transition. As Bulgaria sets its sights on a sustainable future, it is clear that a comprehensive approach encompassing renewable energy sources, improved energy connectivity, and strategic planning will be instrumental in achieving these transformative goals.

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