Bulgaria Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

Bulgaria has relatively scarce natural resources and imports both raw materials and energy. Mining of coal, iron, copper, manganese, lead and zinc occurs.

Coal and nuclear power are the most important domestic energy sources. Coal resources are large but consist mainly of lignite of fairly low quality. Some mines have been closed while others have been refurbished.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Bulgaria with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

Coal-fired power plants account for almost half of the electricity supply. Nuclear power accounts for most of the rest, but the use of hydropower and other renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass is increasing.

Bulgaria is a net exporter of electricity, although most of the energy generated by electricity is imported.

There is some oil recovery on the Black Sea coast, but most of the oil demand is covered by imports from Russia.

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Gas from Russia

In addition to oil, natural gas is also imported from Russia. The strong dependence on gas imports created a crisis in January 2009, when a Russian-Ukrainian gas conflict stopped deliveries via Ukraine to Bulgaria, among others. Tens of thousands of people were left without heating in the midst of a severe cold season. After three weeks, gas deliveries started again.

A new gas pipeline, South Stream, which would go under the Black Sea directly from Russia to Bulgaria began construction in 2012, but the project was canceled in 2014 as a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea (see Foreign Policy and Defense).

Bulgaria signed an agreement with Serbia in 2012 to build a gas pipeline connecting the two countries’ systems, with the support of EU funding. A similar agreement was signed with Greece in 2015, with the aim of reducing Bulgaria’s dependence on energy imports from Russia.

It was previously hoped to reduce import dependence through extraction of natural gas from shale in northeastern Bulgaria. American energy giant Chevron was granted a permit in 2011 to extract shale gas. But the method of extraction – so-called fracking, or hydraulic cracking – aroused protests. To raise the gas from several thousand meters deep, water, sand and chemicals are injected under high pressure. According to critics, the risk is high for damage to the environment and not least contaminated groundwater. The protests grew, first in the region concerned and soon throughout the country, and in early 2012 the government decided to withdraw the permit. Bulgaria also decided, like other countries in the world, to completely ban fracking (after France, then a few more countries were added).

Disputed nuclear power plant

Bulgaria’s only nuclear power plant in Kozloduj on the Danube was put into operation in 1974. Of the plant’s six reactors, four old Soviet-constructed pressurized water reactors were leaked radioactivity on some occasions. As early as the early 1990s, both the EU and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared that the nuclear power plant should not be operational. In 1999, the EU and Bulgaria agreed that the four reactors would be closed before the EU accession in 2007, which also happened.

The loss of four reactors put a strain on the economy and thousands of jobs lost. The government therefore decided to resume a previously halted construction of a new nuclear power plant in Belene, also at the Danube. In 2006, it was clear that a Russian-backed consortium had been commissioned to build the new power plant that would be commissioned from 2013. But the year before, the government decided to scrap the plans, despite one of the first of two reactors being completed. The decision is believed to have been made due to criticism from environmental organizations and disagreement with the Russian supplier about the running costs. The Socialist Party opposed the cessation of the power plant and forced a referendum on the issue. The vote was held in January 2013, but turnout was so low that the result was invalid.

Bulgaria is grappling with major environmental problems, especially pollution from coal-fired power plants and heavy industry. The EU is pushing for increased environmental awareness and providing financial support for environmental improvements.


Energy use per person

2,478 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

4709 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

42 416 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

5.9 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

17.7 percent (2015)



Sharp EU criticism against corruption

The European Commission accuses Bulgaria of not having the political will to deal with organized crime and corruption. The EU presents a long list of areas that require action, such as money laundering and mafia killings.

Minority government takes office

July 27

Parliament approves a minority government consisting solely of Gerb, with the party’s founder Bojko Borisov as prime minister. The government is supported in Parliament by the right-wing party Attack, the right-wing Alliance Blue Coalition and the right-wing Order, Law and Justice, which for the first time took place in parliament.

Right, even in parliamentary elections

July 5

In the parliamentary elections, the newly formed Gerb wins with 40 percent of the vote and 116 seats. The Socialist Party with alliance parties receives 40 seats, DPS 38, right-wing Attack 21, the right-wing Alliance Blue Coalition 15 and the newly formed right-wing Party Order, Law and Justice 10. NDSV does not succeed in crossing the four percent barrier, and its leader Simeon resigns immediately after the election. Just over a week after the election, Parliament appointed Tsetska Tsatjeva Dangovska from Gerb as the new President, the first woman in office. (After a recalculation of the overseas votes, Gerb gets another mandate in early 2010, while DPS gets rid of one.)


New right-wing party largest in EU elections

In the election to the European Parliament, the relatively newly formed center-right party Gerb gets just over 24 percent of the vote. The coalition for Bulgaria, led by the Socialist Party BSP, receives 18 percent and the Bulgarian Turks DPS 14 percent. It gives 5, 4 and 3 seats respectively in the European Parliament. The election is the first regular EU election in which Bulgaria participates.


New electoral law is approved

The new law means that from the forthcoming elections, 31 of the 240 seats in Parliament will be elected by majority vote in one-man constituencies. However, a proposal to raise the percentage block from 4 to 8 percent for election alliances is halted by a veto by President Parvanov.

Bulgaria Energy and Environment Facts

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