A JV of Bulgarian state power company NEK with Austrian utility EVN and compatriot contractor Alpine Bau is to build the 174.2MW scheme, which comprises three plants – Madan, Ardino and Sarnitsa.

The cascade will be located on the upper Arda river and is expected to generate approximately 440GWh of electricity per year. Construction could take between five to eight years, said the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism.

The Government has paved the way for the scheme by issuing a letter of support that clears the way for the JV to finalise their project development company, Gudevitsa.

No funding or underwriting support is being given by the Government,, and the Ministry said about Euro500M (US$714M) of corporate investment could be required to build the scheme.