NEK and EIB sign deal on the construction of 2 pumped-storage hydropower plants

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide advisory support to Natsionalna Elektricheska Kompania (NEK), Bulgaria’s national electricity company, in preparing the construction of two large pumped-storage hydropower plants in the southwestern part of the country.

The pair of new renewable energy sources, named Batak and Dospat, will each add a generation capacity of approximately 800 megawatts (MW) and expand storage capacity, strengthening the electricity supply in Bulgaria and the European Union.

“The EIB supports the development of strategic sustainable investment projects in the energy sector across the European Union and beyond,” said EIB Vice-President Kyriacos Kakouris. “We are pleased to provide the Bank’s expertise in assessing the feasibility and the viability of the two projects, which can significantly impact Bulgaria’s energy mix and enhance the stability of its power grid while reinforcing the overall European energy grid infrastructure.”

A pumped-storage hydropower plant (PSHPP) has the ability not only to generate hydroelectric power but also to store and then release it into the electric grid when needed, acting like a giant battery.

“The partnership between the European Investment Bank and the Ministry of Energy is key to delivering projects that will contribute to achieving the energy transition. Among them is the development of pumped-storage hydropower plants, which could become the largest energy storage batteries in the region,” said interim Energy Minister, Vladimir Malinov. “The implementation of such projects will enhance our energy security, improve Bulgaria’s energy infrastructure and achieve our decarbonization goals. We are grateful for the EIB’s expertise and support for this very important project.”

“The agreement signed today between NEK and the European Investment Bank marks an important step not only for the development of the Batak and Dospat PSHPP projects but also for ensuring the security of supply within Bulgaria’s electricity system and for achieving the country’s decarbonisation goals,” said NEK CEO Martin Georgiev. “It further represents an important tool, which unlocks the value that hydropower brings to the Energy Transition. The benefits and social significance of investing in such sustainable infrastructure are undeniable and we esteem it a privilege to have the expertise and support of the EIB and the European institutions involved in the process.”

The pair of new renewable energy sources, located at hydropower cascade dams and reservoirs near the towns of Batak and Dospat in southwest Bulgaria, are expected to function as large rechargeable batteries, storing green energy. This will provide NEK with flexible 24-hour and weekly management, rapid capacity replacement during emergencies and additional balancing services. With an estimated total cost of about 900 million euros each, the plants are projected to become operational by 2032.

The two projects are part of the Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) 2024 of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).

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