European bank funds nine small hydro plants in Bulgaria

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved loans of 54 million euros (US$80 million) for construction of nine small hydropower plants, totaling 25.7 MW, on Bulgaria's Iskar River.

The run-of-river Vez Svoghe Mini-Hydro project is planned for a 33-kilometer stretch of the Iskar by Vez Svoghe Ltd., owned 90 percent by Petrolvilla Bulgaria and 10 percent by the municipality of Svoghe, comprising 33 towns of 24,000 people. Petrolvilla Bulgaria is a subsidiary of Italian energy developer Petrolvilla &Bortolotti S.p.A.

EBRD is providing the funding in one of several renewable energy initiatives for Bulgaria, which is closing the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. (HNN 4/19/07) The funding consists of an A loan of up to 34 million euros (US$50.4 million) by the EBRD and a B loan of up to 20 million euros (US$29.6 million) syndicated to an international bank. The total project cost is 81 million euros (US$120 million).

Two of the small projects, Lakatnik and Svrazhen, already are under construction with partial funding from the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Credit Line. EBRD said those two plants were included in its funding for refinancing. They are to be completed in early 2008 and evaluated for a year for environmental mitigation that could be implemented at subsequent plants.

Lakatnik and Svrazhen are to be built in cascade with the Opeltnya, Levishte, and Gabrovnitsa plants. Another cascade is to include Bov South and Bov North. The other two individual plants in the project are Prokopanik and Tserovo. Several of the plant sites were among those offered for private development by the Bulgarian government in 1997.

The plants are to include concrete weirs ranging from 6.5 to 11.1 meters tall, with valves and slide gates to stop sediment buildup, and fish passage structures. The power plants are to be fully automated to maintain a constant water level and to avoid flooding. The plants' total annual generation of 137.2 million kilowatt-hours will be delivered to Bulgaria's national grid.

For information on procurement, EBRD said companies should contact Managing Director Plamen Dilkov, Vez Svoghe Ltd., 7/B Stephan Karadja 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria; (359) 2-9888570; E-mail: plamen.dilkov@finenergy.it; Internet: www.vezsvoghe.com.

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