An interview with Ivan Tzankov, Managing Director of AES Bulgaria, for Energia Magazine
- Tzankov, what does it mean to manage the business of the largest investor in Bulgaria’s energy sector?
- This is a very responsible and inspiring task because AES Bulgaria has been the largest investor in Bulgaria’s energy sector for the last 30 years. We have invested more than BGN 3,2 billion in reliable energy and the taxes and social security contributions paid amount to more than BGN 703 million. AES Bulgaria built and manages the newest and most advanced coal-fired power plant in Southeastern Europe – TPP AES Galabovo and the biggest wind park in Bulgaria – Saint Nikola Wind Farm. The most advanced environmental and technological solutions are implemented at the TPP, guaranteeing the safe operation of the plant and its compliance with all environmental standards. Thus, the power plant achieves 98% efficiency rate of desulphurization, interrupting operations when the FGD system stops.
- What makes the TPP significant for Bulgaria?
- The operation of TPP AES Galabovo provides – directly and indirectly, more than 4,500 jobs and guarantees the stability of the energy system, which makes our task even more responsible. Annually, the TPP uses more than 5 million tons of coal from Mines Maritza East. And because your media is mainly read by professional audience, I can explain from a technical point of view why when we say that TPP AES Galabovo is of key importance to the energy system of the country, this is not just a cliché. Thanks to the TPP, Bulgaria covers the ENTSO-E requirements for primary regulatory reserve. TPP AES Galabovo is the most flexible coal-fired capacity in Bulgaria. The technical parameters of the power plant make it one of the most effective for the balancing purposes of the grid operator. It offers balancing service ± 6 MW/minute step of ramp up and ramp down of the unit load, largest capacity for secondary control, 180-343MW (gross) range per Unit. It covers ± 15 MW (per unit) for 30sec keeping the achieved load for 30 min in primary control.
- The energy sector is facing a lot of changes because of the EU policies. What do you think about these challenges?
- The goal of AES Bulgaria is to guarantee the security of power generation and to work for the developing Bulgaria’s energy sector. AES’ mission is to accelerate a safer and greener energy future. For that reason, we have built Saint Nikola Wind Farm. With its 52 wind turbines and capacity of 156 MW, the wind farm helps Bulgaria to achieve its goals for RES share in the mix. Preserving the ecosystems is a main priority for AES Bulgaria, so a high-tech radar system and a team of ornithologists are regularly monitoring the wind farm for flying birds and at the least risk of collision, the turbines stop. At the same time, we see that the European Union has set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% until 2030 compared to 1990, increasing the RES share and energy efficiency up to 27%. However, it should be clear that every Member State is starting at a different level. In Bulgaria, coal share is 40%. It is obvious that coal generation cannot be erased just like that and be replaced by RES in the next 10 years. It should be clear that despite the boom of renewable energy sources, we shall need our TPPs to balance the system when there is no sun or wind. That is why, the coal TPPs will still be the backbone of the Bulgarian energy in the medium term. Moreover, Bulgaria has coal supplies for more than 60 years ahead and using them is part of our energy independence. For this reason, I hope there will be wise government decisions and the power plants, that are meeting the highest environmental and health standards, will continue operating and helping the transition. I am so proud that our power plant is the most advanced one, serving as an example of contemporary coal-fired electricity generation.