The workshop, organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in cooperation with the Bulgarian Association of Producers of Ecological Energy (APEE), pooled industry, government representatives, and national electricity companies together to discuss the potential for wind power development in the country.

“With installed capacity increasing more than fivefold in less than two years, Bulgaria is one of the fastest growing markets for wind energy in the world. Moreover, it has another 8,000 MW of wind projects in the pipeline. If current planning and grid access barriers are streamlined, Bulgaria will soon be one of Europe’s wind energy front-runners, reaping the economic benefits in the form of new jobs, reduced fuel import dependency and technology development,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA’s chief executive.

The EU directive establishing mandatory targets for renewable energy for all EU Member States requires Bulgaria to increase the amount of renewables in its energy mix to 16% by 2020, up from the current level of 9.4%. Bulgaria must submit its national action plan – outlining the measures it will take to boost renewable energy – by June 2010.

Kostadinka Todorova, Director for Energy Efficiency and Environmental Protection at the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy, said that the administration is well on track to submit the first forecast document to the European Commission, due by 5th December this year. “We are working on a new renewable energy law. Once in place, it will attract even more investment to the sector in Bulgaria”, she said.

“Bulgaria is well placed to exceed its target which would allow it to create revenues by selling excess Bulgarian renewable energy production to Member States struggling to meet their targets. This could create revenues of 15-20 billion Leva by 2020 (€7.5-10bn),” said Velizar Kiriakov, APEE’s President.

“Investors and developers have already shown strong interest – demonstrated by the fact that wind energy capacity will have doubled by the end of 2009 compared to the previous year”, added Kiriakov. “Wind energy offers highly workable solutions to the current triple-layered crisis – climate, financial and energy. Bulgaria must not miss the chance to create a new industry which will bring investments and create thousands of new jobs, curb CO2 emissions, and ease the dependency of the country from neighbouring fuel exporting nations” he concluded.

In 2008, 36% of all new electricity generating capacity built in the EU was wind power, ahead of coal, gas and nuclear. On average, 20 wind turbines were installed for every working day of 2008. By the end of 2008, a total of 160,000 workers were employed directly and indirectly in the sector, which saw investments of about €11 billion in the EU.