The Balkan mountain range runs across Bulgaria, from east to west, or perhaps from west to east, separating the country into two roughly equal parts. At the foot of the mountain, in southwestern Bulgaria is the town of Kazanlak, the heart of the country’s rose industry.
It’s called the Rose Valley — the place that has made Bulgaria the largest producer of rose oil globally. About 30 km to the south of Kazanlak is the city of Stara Zagora — one of the five biggest cities in Bulgaria and a regional industrial hub.
Some 50 km further south is the Maritsa Basin, home of 70% of our coal and of the biggest coal power complex in the country. Roses and coal are very last year, however, especially coal.
So the EU, with the wholehearted support of the Bulgarian government is planning to, first, crush the rose oil industry and second, do away with the source of close to 50% of Bulgaria’s electricity supply that has also helped turn the country into one of the very few net exporters in Europe.
Amazingly, the rose industry scored a big win earlier this year thanks to an unusual demonstration of defensive political behaviour from the government. Not so amazingly, the danger hanging over the coal industry in the Maritsa Basin is still there.
A group of local business leaders are planning to build a Hydrogen Valley on the territory currently occupied by the coal mine and the TPPs. We’re talking 380,000 tonnes in green hydrogen production, of them 180,000 tonnes to be exported.
The bLion project is part of the EU’s hydrogen strategy, which stipulates building electrolysis capacity of 6 GW between 2020 and 2024, to produce 1 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually.
By 2030, the total output of green hydrogen in the EU should rise to 10 million tonnes from 40 GW of electrolysis capacity.
In this context, the bLion project will only be a tiny portion of the EU’s total. However, it is a good illustration of the self-destructive policies of Brussels and its friends in national governments.
The so-called Hydrogen Valley will cost the modest sum of 15 billion euro. Also a lot of job losses and potentially compromising the water supply security of an already water-troubled region. Welcome to hydrogen hell.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Irina Slav on energy to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.