Small and Micro HPPs

BusinessSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 6/2008

Hydro-energy Potential and Investment Climate for the Construction of These Plants in Bulgaria

Water is still the most widely used renewable energy source despite the evident interest in the utilization of solar, wind, geothermal energy and biomass. Bulgaria has long years of tradition in the generation of electricity by hydro power plants and currently a number of economic and ecological factors direct a large part of entrepreneurs to investment in this branch and most of all in small and micro HPPs. Among the reasons for this increased investment interest in construction of plants with output up to 10 000 kW are the long period of operation of these facilities and the low costs related to generation and maintenance, along with the security of the investment even if the period of buy-back is relatively longer.
Another advantage is the fact that small HPPs using flowing water do not use preliminarily reserved water volumes thus making it unnecessary to build a dam wall and form a dam lake.

700 locations have the technological capacitates needed
According to expert analyses there are about 700 in Bulgaria, which have the technological capacities necessary for building small HPPs using flowing water. Most of them are located adjacent to mountain rivers where the amount of water is larger and more constant throughout the years despite the lower water head. Approximately 100 water supply dams also provide suitable locations where HPPs could be constructed adjacent to the dams. However, the small HPPs located on derivation systems are considered most attractive. The reasoning is that when the relevant system is a water supply system it provides constant water amounts and fixed hourly usability.

Small, mini and micro HPPs
The differentiation among small, mini and micro hydro power plants is conditional and is used most of all by experts in the field although it is accepted in almost all countries throughout the world. This classification is made based on their installed power.
The category of small HPPs includes plants with installed power equal to or less than 10 IW, the mini HPPs are plants with output from 500 to 2000 kW, and the micro HPPs have an output up to 500 kW.
So far there is no register of the small, mini and micro HPPs constructed in Bulgaria. The Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering /MEPE/ announced that the Act on Renewable and Alternative Energy Resources and Biofuels has not envisaged a registration regimen for the facilities for electricity generation from renewable energy resources. As of the present moment the Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering has only a list of Bulgarian electricity manufacturing companies utilizing renewable energy resources.

The potential capacity for HPPs and small HPPs is 15 056 GWh/year
Bulgaria is relatively poor in water resources - 1600-2000 m3/year/citizen, as per the opinion of the Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering. According to the assessment made within the Project based on the PHARE Program BG 9307-03-01-L001 "Technical and Economic Assessment of Renewable Energy Resources in Bulgaria", the technical capacity for building HPPs and small HPPs amounts to 15 056 GWh/year. The hydro-energy potential of the country for HPP construction has been to a great extent exhausted.
The construction of large HPPs is related to the commissioning of "Tsankov Kamak" HPP with installed output of 80 MW and average annual generation of 200 GWh. Another opportunity for putting into operation of a large output is the successful implementation of the "Gorna Arda" Project with installed output of 170 MW and the expected average annual generation of 454 GWh.
The country has unutilized potential capacity for construction of small HPPs using flowing water, potable water pipelines and irrigation canals in the hydro-melioration system, stated the representatives of the Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering.

Problems the branch is facing in its development
According to the representatives of the Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering the major problems in small and micro hydro power plant construction in Bulgaria are related to the prolonged procedure of performing the environmental impact assessment. It constitutes an obligatory prerequisite for issuing the building permit without which the investment process cannot actually commence. Another problem is the issue of a water intake and water use permit by the relevant directorates for the specific water basins within the Ministry of the Environment and Waters.

Legal framework of the branch
The normative framework directly pertaining to the construction of small, mini and micro hydro power plants is outlines by the following acts: The Waters Act, the Urban Development Act, the Power Engineering Act and the Act on Renewable and Alternative Energy Resources and Biofuels.
These acts enlist the basic steps investors should follow in HPP construction.

Assessment of the technical level during HPP construction
The construction and operation of hydro power plants is performed under observance of the technical requirements of adopted normative instruments as the representatives of the Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering declare. Those requirements have been developed in compliance with European standards concerning the construction and operation of power facilities, including HPPs, declared in addition the representatives of the Ministry.
In relation to the construction and commissioning of each plant it is necessary that a number of conditions be fulfilled allowing for normal and safe operation of the relevant plant. The integration of such a plant into the national electrical power system is a responsible process related with guaranteeing the reliable operation of the electric power system, the safety and quality of electric power supply for consumers, is the comment from the Bulgarian Ministry of the Economy and Power Engineering.