This podcast is part of the Embassy Row Project’s International Infrastructure Development and Trade Diplomacy Series.
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Launching International Hydrogen-Focused Trade Missions and Bulgaria’s Hydrogen Valley
Through its international network of NGOs and institutes, the Embassy Row Project will be launching carbon reduction, clean energy technology, and hydrogen-focused trade missions throughout the European Union with an emphasis on Bulgaria’s decarbonization leadership mission. The Maritsa region in South East Bulgaria is home to one of the largest energy complexes in Eastern Europe, with the largest refinery in South East Europe and the 9th largest ammonia plant in the EU. It is centered around lignite coal mines, which provide fuel for around 3.4 GW of coal-fired power plants and 8000 jobs. The region is one of the key infrastructure and communications hubs in South East Europe with European corridors 4, 8, and 9 passing through the region, access to ports of Burgas (Black Sea, 180km), Russe (Danube river, 235 km), and Alexandropoulos (Aegean Sea, 300km), developed gas and energy infrastructure and contains chemical and materials industries. As part of Bulgaria’s decarbonization strategy, this region will become home to the largest renewable energy complex in South East Europe, which will transition completely from fossil fuel to renewable, primarily solar, energy and deploy hydrogen for energy storage. Hydrogen will be produced using water electrolysis – a clean, sustainable, and environmentally friendly method.
“The plan,” explains James Scott, founder of the Embassy Row Project, “is to construct capacities for the production of around 380,000 tons of hydrogen annually, along with around 150,000 tons of industrial chemicals like ammonia. Of this annual production, 180,000 tons of hydrogen is earmarked for export, while another 36,000 tons will be used to generate electricity to provide supplementary energy balance to the grid, and 11,000 tons will be used for transport in vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells.” Scott continues, “The estimated price of hydrogen produced is less than 1.8 euros per kg. The energy for hydrogen production will be provided wholly from renewable energy sources, primarily solar energy from the region’s 1500 kWh/m2 average annual solar radiation. By 2033, it is planned that the regional solar energy production will reach 10 GW of installed power, providing the region with 7,500 direct and 18,000 indirect new jobs from a total investment of close to 15 billion euros.”
bLion Hydrogen Valley is one of the largest renewable energy projects planned in South Eastern Europe, and it will highlight both the capabilities of Bulgaria to provide expertise and an expert workforce for a project of this sophistication and magnitude and the ability of the European administration to support large scale renewable energy projects in all corners of the Eurozone. This project will provide Bulgaria with a modern energy complex and a large domestic hydrogen production, providing a crucial step in the process of decarbonization. It will set Bulgaria well on its path to a zero-carbon economy and meet its respective Paris Climate Agreement goals by 2030 and 2050.