EU Green Deal Transformation: Opportunities and Challenges Conference – OVERVIEW

On June 30th, 2021, AmCham Bulgaria organized “EU Green Deal Transformation – Opportunities and Challenges” Conference under the aegis of the “Green Deal Working Group” of the Chamber. The event was hosted at The Grand Hotel Millennium.

Position Paper

Bulgaria needs to quickly develop its potential by reaching the EU-average economic development indicators. The country has an opportunity to achieve the status of an industrialized and low-carbon economy by attracting and implementing significant long-term investments in strategic industries such as high value-added manufacturing, natural resource extraction and processing, energy, healthcare, and digital infrastructure. To reach this objective, Bulgaria needs full alignment between political, social, and economic stakeholders to implement long-term solutions.

AmCham Bulgaria Position Paper on EU Green Deal, June 30th, 2021

OPENING SESSION

Petar T. Ivanov, CEO, AmCham Bulgaria: Our Green Future Needs Energy

Business can support any government to improve the business climate. EU Green Deal is among the hottest topics in public recently. It is clear that the energy consumption will rise. Industry 4.0, mobility, IoT and many other trends will need energy and electricity. To Bulgaria this is very important issue since the country is among the most carbon-intensive economies in EU.


Andrey Zhivkov, Minister of Energy: Together We Must Find Mutually Agreed Solutions

There are many challenges before us about the ways which we will utilize the opportunities the EU gives us to transform our economy. The adopted higher goal of emission reduction with at least 55% till 2030 from the 1990 levels, is a big topic not only for the energy sector, but for the overall economic development of Bulgaria.

I would like to thank the organizers for having me. I am certain that only together we can achieve mutually agreed solutions. On EU level Bulgaria defends its position that to achieve the EU Climate Goals must be taken into consideration the countries specifics, energy systems security, as well as there should be possibility of enough flexibility in the decision making process. Our priority is to secure smooth and fair transition.

Miguel A. Hernandez, U.S. Commercial Attaché: Focus of Our Work is the Stara Zagora Region Too

I am from California and the green technology is built in our DNA. We pioneered the ideas that the Green Deal presents today.

We congratulate AmCham and the leadership of member companies because they open the discussion on this topic, and who try to engage with stakeholders to discuss the EU Green Deal. In the United States, President Biden placed the climate topic as a high priority. Thus, U.S. and EU are in coordination. We have same mission.

It is great that you have brought to this discussion the Mining university (ed. UMG “St. Ivan Rilski) because there are the future talents of this industry. Focus of our joint work is the region of Stara Zagora, where we have AES and ContourGlobal. We need important solutions for the future of this region.

OPENING SESSION – VIDEO

PANEL 1:

EU Green Deal – Opportunities and Challenges

EU Green Deal present an interesting opportunity to realize a transition to low-carbon economy. However, there are series of questions that should be asked. What is the price that should be paid? What will be the complexities that will arise from technical, finance, economic, and scientific point of view. These were the opening remarks of Attn. Nikolay Voynov, Senior Associate, “Penkov, Markov, and Partners” Law Firm..

Boyan Rashev: Metals are the new fuel of the Energy transition

EU Green Deal changes not only an energy transition, but reflects the social relations too. It aims full decarbonization of the EU economy to stop climate change. Its second accent is the circular economy: to have minimum mining and multiple usage of resources and materials. Its third element is zero pollution. To achieve all of these, a total electrification is needed by replacing coal with gas, and in several years – gas to be replaced by hydrogen as energy source.

A sole fact is that these goals require vast metal consumption to develop the technologies that will help us achieve these goals. Metals are the new fuel for the energy transition, and copper itself is the new oil.

Where is Bulgaria at the start of EU Green Deal?

Bulgaria is the country that has reduced its carbon emission the most in the EU on their 1989-1990 basis. It happened due to shut-down of old plants and factories. The carbon reduction is almost 50% – which means that we have achived the 2030 goals. Despite that, Bulgaria is the most carbon intensive economy in EU, thanks to the power generation from lignite TPPs. The other reason is energy-intensive industries, which should not be mistaken with energy inefficient ones. On third side, Bulgaria has hte most energy poor and it is the less gas-utilized country in the EU.

Ten percent of Bulgaria’s export comes from copper and anode. The country has strong recycling industry that includes not only metals, but textile, glass, plastics, etc. Bulgaria is the most “border” country in the EU – it is surrounded by neighbors that are non-EU members and that do not follow “green requirements”. Also, Natura 2000 comprises 35% of the territory which limits some green initiatives such as mounting wind turbines on the edge of Stara Planina mountain. Another negative factor is the depopulation of certain regions.

Potential Risks

On one hand, EU gets more and more energy import dependent. On the other, Bulgaria is less dependent, thanks to the Maritsa East Energy Complex (power generation of lignite).

Both EU, and Bulgaria are threatened to lose competitiveness. The current energy intensive industries will not stay longer and will simply move. It brings risk to the regions where they operate – they will get poor after investors exit.

Opportunities?

Among the many possibilities are the well-developed nuclear energy and small module nuclear reactors, carbon capture and storage, and utilization of CO2, mass gasification, RES development, increase of energy efficiency, gas supply diversification, etc. To the possibilities we should add copper mining and related value chain production, circular economy and recycling industry. EU Taxonomy for sustainable investment could bring more benefit with the so-called enabling industries. Bulgaria can produce end RES products, batteries, electronics, and low-carbon industries products.

Bulgaria must have long-term vision, rule of law, excellent investment climate to secure its own future and the future of its people and industries.


Boyan Rashev, denkstatt Bulgaria – “EU Green Deal: Risk and Opportunities before Energy and Industry”


Ass. Prof. Krassen Stanchev: EU Green Deal Big Picture and Bulgaria’s Business Climate

Despite the fact that he is not an optimisit for the EU Green Deal, Ass. Prof. Stanchev pointed out that thanks to the recent work of the caretaker cabinet, reputation has returned as factor in politics and economy. We see no reforms in many sectors such as savings, education, minimal wage, etc. Bulgaria is “a champion” in terms of public procurement cost.

In parallel, the Bulgarian industry suffers heavy political hits over the years. This is valid not only for the two so-called “U.S. TPPs”, but other foreign investors such as Dunde Precious Metals and their two projects at Chelopech and Krumovgrad. The delay – both local and political – of the start of Krumovgrad Ada Tepe Mine – didn’t allow app. BGN 2 billion to flow in the local economy.

A positive evidence is that these companies continue invest in their operations and in the regions they operate. For instance: thanks to the new pit mine at Krumovgrad, many people have returned back home, the average wage is increased several times. Reversed economic and demographic picture is seen in Tran municipality (in which a referendum blocked a new gold mine development in 2017).

At the end he sketched one underdeveloped possibility of filtration of Sulphur-Hydrogen in the Black Sea, and extracting the hydrogen as a fuel. It is a pilot project of the Bulgarian Academy of Science and the Mining and Geology University, that could meet 10% of the energy demand in the EU (incl. UK) for 40 years.


Ass. Prof. Krassen Stanchev, Institute for Market Economics – “Bulgaria Elections, Economy & The Green Deal – The Big Picture”


Panel 1: Boyan Rashev, denkstatt Bulgaria, Albena Markova, PwC Bulgaria, Ass. Prof. Krassen Stanchev, IME, Prof. Ivaylo Koprev, MGU “St. Ivan Rilski”
Rolf Kuby, Euromines – European Mining Industry Supports the Green Deal

The European mineral raw materials industry is committed to the Green Deal and we expect the right political framework and actions to happen to provide security to the mining investments to allow the industry to deliver.

Being at the beginning of all value chains allows the potential of decarbonisation to be passed on downstream along the value chain. Electrification in the extractive industry has radically progressed productivity and energy efficiency and the mining industry is continuously implementing new solutions aiming at further reducing the energy consumption/unit and improving carbon-intensive operations.

This being said, mining sectors in the EU and especially in Scandinavia are the frontrunner in reducing the carbon footprint per unit extracted raw materials. Minerals and metals are indispensable enablers for carbon-neutral solutions in all sectors of the economy. Given the scale of fast-growing material demand, primary raw materials will continue to provide a large part of the demand next to increasing recycling activities.

Euromines covers 42 metals and minerals and 350.000 direct jobs in the EU with connected value chains representing 25 million jobs.

Decarbonization of mobility, housing and economy means the substitution of fossil energies by using metals and minerals. In transport, fuels are substituted by batteries containing minerals and metals, in housing the same happens with PV-panels and geothermal heat exchangers and in energy generation for example producing a 3-megawatt wind turbine requires up to 335 tones of steel, 5 tones of copper, 1200 tones of concrete, 3 tones of aluminum and many more elements like rare earths. This illustrates the volume of raw materials needed for the green transition.

However, the Green Deal will only be successful if all Europeans are part of it, including a prosperous industry.

The EU Commission must partner today’s Green Deal with an equally ambitious Industrial Strategy, which allows us to make long-term investments into improving our capacity & environmental performance. Bold action & coherent regulation is needed to establish a level playing field and fair competition for best-performing European companies, when other global players are not all subject to the same rules.


Albena Markova, PwC Bulgaria – Territorial Just Transition Plans

Albena Markova, Partner at PwC Bulgaria presented “The Mechanism for Just Transition and opportunities that it can present the opportunities to Bulgaria. The Fund for Just Transition has EUR 1,178 billion and it aims towards green initiatives, SME support, RES, educaiton, smart utilities, social inclusion and many more. Main goal of the project is to contribute for institutional, administrative, and sustainable reforms in accordance with the Structural Reforms Support Program (SRSP).


Albena Markova, PwC Bulgaria Presentation – Territorial Plans for Just Transition


PANEL 2: BUSINESS LEADERS DISCUSSION ON EU GREEN DEAL

Full overview in Bulgarian – HERE.

More in detail overview follows soon.