The falling temperatures in recent weeks in Sofia reminded us that winter is only two months away. Winter is a testing time for all energy companies as demand rises and the risk of supply problems is at its highest.
AES Galabavo, the most modern and efficient power plant in the region, is well prepared for the challenges that winter can bring.
The plant is part of the backbone of Bulgaria’s energy supply and is crucial in ensuring grid stability. It also plays an important role in the energy independence of Bulgaria by using only local fuel. It meets the needs of up to 300,000 households in Bulgaria all year long, including during cold weather conditions.
We have a good track record at keeping the lights on. For instance, in January 2017, Bulgaria suffered a prolonged cold spell that was the coldest for more than 50 years. The average temperature in Sofia was – 6 degrees centigrade and demand for electricity rose by 12%.
Electricity generators were called on to increase their output to make up for lower supply from hydroelectric plants, solar panels and wind turbines. Water in the dams was low, wind generation was down due to lack of wind and frozen blades, and the lack of sunshine meant there was limited solar power.
AES Galabavo rose to the challenge and operated at almost full capacity throughout January. During this period, our plant alone generated up to 11% of the electricity needs of the entire country.
Our plant was able to respond because it is maintained to the highest industry standards. One activity which becomes crucial during the winter is the management of the coal yard to prevent stocks freezing. Our coal is compacted and sealed so that it does not become waterlogged and is at less risk of freezing.
AES Galabavo also uses a local resource rather than relying on imported fuel. The coal for the plant is mined only 12 kilometers away, which ensures a guaranteed fuel supply while contributing to Bulgaria’s energy independence.
A key strength of AES Galabovo is that it can rapidly increase output to match surges in demand, as the response in January 2017 showed. Because AES Galabovo is the newest coal-fired power plant in the whole Balkans region, it is the most flexible of all thermal power plants in Bulgaria.
This example illustrates the crucial role we play in ensuring the country’s security of supply. As Bulgaria increases the proportion of energy it gets from renewable sources such as solar and wind power, AES Galabovo will continue to be essential in providing backup power and ensuring the reliability of the system.
As Bulgaria heads into the winter, AES Galabovo is ready to play its part in delivering the power its citizens and businesses need.