The European Commission (EC) has approved around €94m to support the construction and operation of a waste-to-energy cogeneration plant in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria informed the EC in October 2019 that it intends to build a high-efficient cogeneration plant in Sofia that will have the capacity to generate electricity as well as heat.

For producing electricity and heat, the plant will make use of fuel derived from unrecyclable municipal waste in line with EU State aid rules.

The European Commission Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The support measure will help Bulgaria achieving its energy-efficiency targets and will contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in line with the EU environmental objectives, without unduly distorting competition.”

Annually, 180,000 tonnes of unrecyclable municipal waste will be used to fuel the plant which will have the capacity to generate nearly 55MW of heat and 19MW of electricity.

The finalisation of the construction is expected to take place by the end of 2023. Once completed, the heat generated by the plant will be connected to the Sofia district heating network.

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Of the total financial aid, a grant of approximately €90.8m will be financed by EU Structural Funds managed by Bulgaria.

The remaining aid of about €3m will be provided by the Sofia municipality to its fully-owned company Toplofikacia EAD, which will install and connect the plant to the Sofia district heating network. The construction and operation of the plant is the third phase of a long-standing environmental project and is aimed at improving waste treatment in the Sofia Region.

In 2014, the initial phase of the plant was completed and involved the construction of a new landfill, a new anaerobic digestion and other minor project components.

As part of the second phase, which was concluded in 2015, recycling was improved and a mechanical biological treatment facility producing unrecyclable municipal waste was established.