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ICOLD delegates see global revival of dam construction

Delegates to an international meeting on large dams welcomed a revival in dam construction around the world in response to water supply needs and increased demand for clean renewable hydroelectricity.

More than 600 dam owners, builders, and designers from 80 countries gathered June 1-6 in Sofia for the 76th annual meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD).

Host Bulgaria welcomed delegates with remarks by Valentin Ivanov, Bulgaria's deputy minister of economy and energy. Ivanov said Bulgaria's gross theoretical hydropower potential is 25,400 gigawatt-hours per year, with technically feasible potential of about 14,000 GWH per year. About a third of the 14,000 GWh has been harnessed.

�We are all witnessing a revival of construction of dams around the world,� Ivanov said. �The work going on in Bulgaria is illustrative of that revival.�

EU mandate seen stimulating new hydro development

The deputy minister said the primary reason for development of new hydro projects in Bulgaria is to help comply with the European Union's (EU) mandate for renewable energy. EU states have agreed to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable resources, including hydropower, by 2020. (HNN 3/17/08)

For Bulgaria, the EU directive calls for it to produce 11 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2010, compared to 9.4 percent in 2005. In 2020, that amount is to increase to 16 percent. In February, Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov said Bulgaria should rely on its hydro potential to meet growing demand. (HNN 2/29/08)

That opinion was echoed at the ICOLD conference by the minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Assen Gagauzov.

�Hydroelectric power development is one of the most attractive options within the energy framework in Bulgaria,� Gagauzov said.

At the same time, Deputy Environment and Water Minister Lubka Kachakova said environmental protection is a priority in Bulgaria when choosing sites for dam construction. She said all projects go through an environmental impact assessment in accordance with EU legislation.

Delegates visit 80-MW Tsankov Kamak site

Officials said the 80-MW Tsankov Kamak hydroelectric project, now under construction on Bulgaria's Vacha River, would go a long way toward helping the nation meet its renewables commitment. Austria is working with Bulgaria to develop Tsankov Kamak, with resulting carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol to be allotted to Austria. (HNN 5/15/06) About 300 ICOLD delegates visited the construction site June 5.

In addition to Tsankov Kamak, Ivanov noted Bulgaria's national utility is upgrading three projects in the Dolna Arda Cascade: 60-MW Studen Kladenets (or Kladenez), 106-MW Kardzhali (or Kardjali), and 103.5-MW Ivaylovgrad (or Ivailovgrad). Also planned is construction of Yadenitsa (or Jadenitsa) Dam on the Yadenitsa River, which would expand the lower reservoir of the 864-MW Chaira pumped-storage project, allowing it to generate for 22 continuous hours rather than the current 6.4 hours. (HNN 5/15/06)

Ivanov said Bulgaria also wants to restart development of the 170-MW Gorna Arda hydropower project, including three dams and hydropower plants in the Gorna Arda Cascade. (HNN 4/11/08) The project, which also includes rehabilitation of three existing projects, has been stalled by disagreements with development partners in Turkey.

The minister also described proposals for joint development of two projects on the Danube River between Bulgaria and Romania: one at the Nikopol-Turnu Magurele site with two hydro plants of 400 to 500 MW each, and one at the Silistra-Calarasi site with two hydro plants of 265 MW each. (HNN 2/29/08)

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