Bulgaria’s overreliance on fossil fuels is a major factor in the deteriorating air pollution situation in most urban areas. There is a huge untapped potential in solar and wind power. Bulgaria is advanced in energy research, however the implementation of research results especially in the solar energy sector could be more efficient. The country is planning to install further 2645 MW of installed electricity generation capacity from these renewable energy sources.
Bulgaria is in south-eastern Europe, with an estimated population of 6 896 000. Bulgaria occupies an area of 111 036 km2. The nation’s capital is Sofia, the official language is Bulgarian.
Bulgaria uses more solid fuels than the EU average, but less petroleum and gas. Its import dependency is below the EU average, and has improved recently, thanks to a significant expansion of renewables. However, its specific import dependency for oil and gas is very high, with a single supplier for the latter, which means the country is vulnerable to disruptions.
The high carbon and energy intensity of Bulgaria’s economy and its high dependence on coal power call for significant transition efforts, in view of the EU’s emission reduction targets. Bulgaria has one of the most energy- and carbon intensive economies in the EU. The current overreliance on fossil fuels and the inefficient use of energy are creating several challenges for sustainability.
At the end of 2019 Bulgaria pledged to update its national target for renewable energy and raised the share of wind, solar and other renewables to 27% of their energy consumption respectively by 2030. Hydropower plays an important role in the energy production of Bulgaria with a share of approximately 14% of the total installed capacity. Electricity generation from hydro power makes a substantial contribution to meeting the increased electricity demand and is currently the most used resource which is not fossil fuel or nuclear-based electricity generation technology.
Energy research is highly prioritised in the national research strategy. In this field, the country is performing quite well in the wind sector but has not undertaken significant specialisation in the solar sector.
The Bulgarian landscape has noticeable topographic variety. The most notable topographic areas of the country are Danubian Plain, the Balkan Mountains, the Thracian Plain, and the Rila–Rhodope massif.
Most of the country has a moderate continental climate, which is moderated by Mediterranean influences in the south. The average annual temperature is 10.5 C, but temperatures wildly vary throughout the year. Mean annual precipitation is 450 mm in the northeast and more than 1000 mm in the highest mountains.
Bulgaria, a former communist country that entered the EU in 2007, has an open economy that historically has demonstrated strong growth, but its per-capita income remains the lowest among EU members and its reliance on energy imports and foreign demand for its exports makes its growth sensitive to external market conditions.
Unemployment rate: 5.66% (2019 est.) // 6.18% (2018 est.)
The growing Bulgarian economy has required an expansion of the transportation system. Road transport accounts for a large percentage of all freight carried as well as for most passenger traffic. The Danube is used for both internal and international traffic, with Ruse, Svishtov, and Lom the main river ports.