In 2023, the energy scene in Bulgaria is dominated by low-carbon power sources, which contribute over 60% of the nation's electricity consumption. Of this, nuclear energy, a clean and efficient source, amounts to more than 40%. Fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, which are notorious for their impact on climate change, contribute almost 40% to the national grid. Interestingly, renewable sources like solar and hydropower both account for close to 8% respectively while wind power is lagging behind at around 4%.
To increase low-carbon electricity generation, Bulgaria has a wealth of successful case studies from around the world to learn from, particularly in harnessing nuclear, wind, and solar power sources. Bulgaria's existing nuclear facilities, which already contribute significantly to its energy mix, can be expanded. For instance, France, which generates two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power, can provide valuable insights into scaling this capacity. Wind energy also presents a viable avenue, demonstrated by Denmark where wind contributes a staggering 59% to their electricity mix. Similarly, efforts can be steered towards harnessing greater solar potential, taking cues from Australia and Greece which generate a significant portion of their electricity from solar power.
Tracing back the history of low-carbon electricity generation in Bulgaria, it's evident that nuclear energy has shaped much of its trajectory, with significant increments in the 1980s, leading up to the early 2000s. However, the nuclear generation experienced quite a roller-coaster ride with periods of sharp declines like 1991-1992, 2003, and 2007 which were subsequently followed by recoveries. This has raised some concerns about the stability of nuclear energy. Meanwhile, hydrоpower has also been in the mix, with variable generation levels observed over the past decade. Sadly, the potential of biofuels for electricity generation has not been fully harnessed, as indicated by the reduction in its output in 2023. The past few decades exhibit Bulgaria's increasing shift towards green, sustainable energy, despite bumps along the road, reflective of a larger global trend to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and limit climate change.