THE ILL-PROJECTED ENERGY BALANCE
The safety of supply of the UCTE system in Western and Central Europe as a whole does not seem at risk in the next two years, but its full potential cannot always be used because of existing transmission network bottlenecks. The implementation of the necessary infrastructure projects is still difficult because of the local opposition. Some regions will be in a difficult position and need serious investments in generation and transmission network. In 2007 and 2010, the system reserves will decrease, and in 2015 about 30 GW direct investments will be needed to cover the potential electricity deficit.The situation in Bulgaria and Romania is better compared to the last year forecast due to the declared new investments until 2012. In the period 2005-2007 the capacity will be sufficient to cover the two countries' needs. The reserve expected until 2007 is 2 GW below the last year forecast because of consumption growth higher than expected and the insignificant reduction of the generation capacity. 2.5 GW new coal capacities are expected to be built from 2007 to 2010. The situation has been estimated as improved particularly in Bulgaria. The commissioning of new nuclear plant results in increasing the safety of the system and ensuring the safety of deliveries to the union by 2015. This is part of the contents of the most recent report issued by the Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE).The optimistic forecast of the UCTE and the favourable perspective for Bulgaria's electricity balance look like coming by order of the Government headed by PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. During the last months of its mandate it can reasonably report that its energy policy has been appreciated by Europe's most authoritative energy organisation. And that the regional deficit predicted just months ago will not come true thanks to the investments that the Bulgarian Government planned (the new nuclear plant being a major one). By issuing this report, the UCTE automatically ranked among the institutions that support the controversial nuclear power plant project in Belene. Moreover, the new nuclear plant becomes the only factor that will save not only the country but the Balkans from the electricity deficit. Therefore, the problems remain for all those who oppose the Belene project (or those who insist on postponing it and choosing a modern nuclear technology with improved safety). They should either change their standpoint and become active collaborators of the Bulgarian Government or assume the guilt if all regional countries fall in an energy deficit gap a few years from now.The UCTE forecast as well as the favourable national energy perspective are based on concrete consumption figures, balance-sheets and fixed-term investment projects. It means, on figures and schedules provided by... the Bulgarian authorities. The cabinet provides the union with forecasts about growing consumption that will be satisfied by the new electricity plants that it plans to build. The only question concerns the correctness of the data provided and the credibility of the figures and terms.According to Georgi Kaschiev, former head of the Nuclear Energy for Peace Committee, the consumption of electricity in Bulgaria will soon decrease by approximately 2.5 billion kwh. The economy will be achieved as a result from decreasing the technological distribution losses which are three times bigger than in developed countries. The new owners of electricity distribution companies said that reducing these losses will be their first task. Moreover, Georgi Kaschiev added, the Bulgarian population decreases by 60-65,000 people a year, but considering the plans of the National Electricity Company (NEC) household consumption will be growing by 1-2% a year. According to Mr. Kaschiev, such a forecast is not real since the diminishing number of consumers cannot consume more. Also considering the decreased consumption by new home appliances and the expanding gas supply, the situation becomes different and predicted consumption will fall by approximately 4.5-5 billion kwh by 2010.The artificially overestimated forecast consumption is also mentioned in the analysis of Totema Engineering. According to it, it is highly imperative to assess the losses (more accurately - the waste) of electricity in industry, households, and within the power energy system itself. It's not a secret that in terms of electricity losses during its transportation, distribution and consumption our country has been the absolute champion in all Europe. The 28.46% losses in the transition and distribution networks for 2003 are almost twice higher than the highest registered in EU countries. The low energy efficiency of Bulgarian industry is proverbial. The electricity consumed per unit of GDP in our country is twice to four times bigger as compared to the EU. According to rough calculations, over 2.6 billion kilowatthours (the quantity generated by a unit of 500-megawatt capacity) of electricity is wasted in industry each year. If all wastes are added up, it becomes clear that each year we lose as much electricity as generated by four units (as the small ones in the Kozlodoui N-plant). In the words of Mr. Kaschiev, the projected capacity balance, worked out by NEC, did not take into consideration the rehabilitation and modernisation of coal power plants. The rehabilitation of Maritsa Iztok 3 thermoelectric power station, to be completed in 2007, will ensure additional production of 1.4 billion kilowatthours at least in the next 15 years. The situation is similar at the Maritsa Iztok 2 thermoelectric power plant. And the new 335-megawatt units at the Maritsa Iztok 1 station, to be commissioned in 2009, will generate about 4 billion kilowatthours annually. Thus, the three power plants in the complex will produce about 7 billion kilowatthours additionally, which are not taken into consideration at present. The analysis of Totema Engineering shows also that the available capacities of the Bulgarian electricity energy system have a significant unused potential. After the modernization of the Kozlodoui's two 1,000-megawatt units, they will be generating about 2 billion kilowatthours additionally each year. The rehabilitation the Varna thermoelectric power station will result in another 2.2 billion kilowatthous, that of the Bobov Dol thermoelectric power plant will bring additionally 1.8 billion kilowatthours, the Maritsa iztok complex - 4 billion kilowatthours, and that of the heating stations - about 0.9 billion kilowatthours. In other words, the projected capacity balance did not take into consideration unused potential of almost 10 billion kilowatthours, which is the annual amount of a 1,000-megawatt generator, working for 7,000 hours at full capacity. However, there is no programme for creating conditions for adequate use of that reserve. There is neither a reliable forecast about electricity consumption in the State. For years on end crazy forecasts are circulated, such as that of Mr. Shilyashki about electricity consumption of 63 billion kilowatthous in 2010 (e.i. an average annual growth of 3.5%). At the same time, everybody, energy bosses included, have completely forgotten about other calculations, worked out by a wide range of independent experts from the Bulgarian Academy of Science, Energoproect, Totema Engineering and Energocibernetika, back in 1996, which were fully confirmed in the passed years. According to them, domestic consumption shall not exceed 42-44 billion kilowatthours in 2010, and will reach 50 billion kilowatthours in 2015. The analysis did not examine the huge energy consumption of Bulgarian industry and households. The data from a research ordered by the EU, made public a month ago, are indicative in that respect. As the head of the Via Expo project Maya Krasteva pointed out, electricity consumption in Bulgaria is seven times up than the average in the UN and the developed countries, and 2.7 up than in Romania.