Bulgaria Experiences Solar Boom as Large Photovoltaic Parks Transform Energy Landscape

The Bulgarian solar energy sector is witnessing a remarkable transformation as the country’s solar power capacity surges past expectations, with the biggest photovoltaic parks coming online at an unprecedented pace. In just a matter of months, Bulgaria’s total solar power capacity is set to exceed 3 GW, a significant leap from the 1.3 GW recorded at the end of 2021. This surge is attributed to a flurry of major solar facilities being commissioned, with more projects in the pipeline.

Over the past two years, Bulgaria has doubled its combined nameplate size of solar power installations, exceeding 2.4 GW. This summer saw a peak in new additions, reshaping the country’s solar energy landscape. Notably, the top 20 photovoltaic units currently operating in Bulgaria do not benefit from any subsidies, as revealed by data compiled by Capital.bg.

The majority of the facilities listed, amounting to a peak capacity of 1.28 GW, are under domestic ownership. Thirteen of these facilities, including the seven largest ones, were commissioned within the past two years, marking a breaking of the decade-long stagnation that plagued the industry. These newly commissioned facilities contribute a staggering 84% or 1.07 GW to the country’s solar capacity.

According to statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Bulgaria’s solar capacity stood at 1.28 GW by the end of 2021, surging to 1.95 GW within a year. It is important to note that these figures represent nominal or peak capacity, distinct from connection power, which can vary based on factors such as solar irradiation, land configuration, and panel type.

However, amidst this remarkable growth, concerns are being raised by households, local authorities, and activists regarding the incomplete legal framework for rooftop photovoltaic installations and energy communities. Authorities are actively working to address these concerns by making amendments to the Law on Energy.

Despite the promising growth, the lack of a state register for photovoltaic installations has led to market uncertainty, putting several projects on hold. A survey conducted by a local news outlet estimates that around 700 MW of new capacity is expected to be commissioned in the coming months, pushing Bulgaria’s solar capacity beyond the 3 GW mark.

One of the driving forces behind Bulgaria’s solar surge is the government’s initiative to repurpose coal land, including active facilities, into solar power plants. The Maritsa East Mines complex alone envisions a total capacity of more than 4 GW for solar power generation.

The rapid evolution of Bulgaria’s photovoltaic landscape is exemplified by the changing roster of the largest PV units. Just three months ago, Eurohold’s Verila solar power plant claimed the title of the largest facility with a nameplate capacity of 123 MW. However, this record was quickly surpassed by Dalgo Pole, a solar park with an impressive 208 MW capacity, owned by Santera Re and its subsidiary Galaxy Re.

The future of Bulgaria’s solar sector seems bright as the country continues to attract investment and build a foundation for a sustainable energy future. As photovoltaic technology advances and regulatory frameworks evolve, Bulgaria stands poised to harness the sun’s power on an unprecedented scale, contributing to its economic growth and environmental well-being.

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