Interview by Olivier Marquette, President of AES Bulgaria in Manager Magazine: AES is a long-term investor in Bulgaria and a guarantor of the energy system

30.07.2019

– Mr. Marquette, what brought you in Bulgaria?

The AES corporation is a global technology leader operating in 14 countries. I came to Bulgaria in 2015 to become the President of AES Bulgaria. For me, it was an extremely challenging and exciting role as AES has been present in the country since 2001 and is the largest investor in the energy sector. For the past 30 years, our investments in reliable energy exceed BGN 3.2 billion and the taxes and insurance we have paid in Bulgaria are around BGN 703 million.

 

– What are the achievements that make AES Bulgaria proud of? 

– AES Bulgaria built and operates the newest and the most technologically advanced coal-fired power plant TPP AES Galabovo and the largest wind farm in the country St. Nikola. TPP AES Galabovo is the most advanced coal power in Southeastern Europe and the only newly-built one in the last 40 years. It is a unique facility for the region. The plant incorporates modern environmental and technological solutions that guarantee its safe operation and compliance with the modern environmental standards. The 690-megawatt capacity achieves a desulfurization efficiency rate of 98% and is designed so that it cannot work if the FGD installation stops working. TPP AES Galabovo works only with local energy sources. Every year, the plant uses over 5 million tons of lignite from the Maritza East Mines. Thus, the operation of TPP AES Galabovo provides directly and indirectly over 4500 jobs and guarantees the stability of the country’s energy system.

AES’ mission is accelerating a safer and greener energy future. Part of this process is the construction of the largest wind farm in the country – St. Nikola. With its 52 wind turbines and 156 MW capacity, the wind farm allows Bulgaria to achieve its targets for the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix. And as ecosystem preservation is of paramount importance for AES Bulgaria, two high-tech radars and six ornithologists at the wind farm track the passing birds 24/7 and at the least risk of collision they stop the work of the turbines to ensure the smooth passage of the migratory flocks. Beyond our business excellence, we are proud of all the social projects that we have in the country. Because being a good employer and a big investor today is not enough. Much more effort is required – working with local communities and social commitment, pursuing success and caring about people’s lives. That is why, so far AES Bulgaria has invested over BGN 14 million in various social projects.

 

– At what stage, in your opinion, is Bulgaria on the path to cleaner energy?

– One part of the energy transformation, including in Bulgaria, is undoubtedly related to the realization of the fact that the different countries have started their transitions from different stages. It should be perfectly clear that in this period, despite introducing RES, we shall still need the thermal power plants to balance the system when there is no sun or wind. Consequently, in parallel with RES investments, Bulgaria should keep using its energy resources such as coal in the Maritza basin. Bulgaria has coal reserves for another 60 years and their use is an essential part of the country’s energy independence. The power plants which meet the highest environmental standards, ensuring the protection of the environment and human health should continue to work and support the transition.

 

– Where is The AES Corporation in this process?

– AES is one of the global energy companies that are most rapidly introducing innovative technologies into their day-to-day operations to accelerate energy transition. AES was the first to implement a virtual dam project, which is a run-of-river hydroelectric facility and battery energy storage. Storage parks help increase the share of RES in power generation. With our hybrid project Lāwa’i Solar and Energy Storage, we won the biggest prize of the prestigious Edison Electric Institute. We are also pioneers in using drones to work in a hazardous environment and to build energy networks in hard-to-reach places.

 

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Olivier Marquette assumed the responsibilities of a President of the business of AES in Bulgaria in January 2015 and is also President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria. Preceding his relocation to Bulgaria, Olivier Marquette has been a Manager Business Development for AES in the United States, Director Business Development for AES Singapore and VP Business Development for AES Brazil and Dominican Republic.

Mr. Marquette has graduated from “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris”- Paris, France. He has a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University- USA, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Mr. Marquette speaks French, English and Spanish and has a working proficiency in Portuguese and Bulgarian.