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Jonathan Allen

Former Ambassador to Bulgaria

Part of UK in Bulgaria

6th March 2014

Modernisation and Energy Security

by guest blogger Baroness Verma

This blogpost follows Baroness Verma’s official visit to Bulgaria, 3-5 March. It was also published in Standart newspaper.

Baroness Verma
Baroness Verma

I am delighted that I had the chance to visit Bulgaria this week. As European partners, Bulgaria and the UK need to share ideas on the big challenges of our generation: ensuring energy security, tackling climate change and promoting economic growth. These were the themes of my visit. I am happy that I had discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Daniela Bobeva, Minister Dragomir Stoynev, the Director of Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant Ivan Genov, and British business people who are working in Bulgaria.

Modernising our economies

Major changes are taking place in the global economy, as governments and businesses invest heavily in energy-efficiency measures and low carbon technology. Even at a time of slow global growth, the low carbon sector has grown significantly (around 4% per annum). Globally it is worth over EUR 4 trillion – nearly one hundred times the size of Bulgaria’s economy! This ecologically clean growth generates new industries and opportunities. In Britain, nearly one million people are employed in the low-carbon and environmental sectors. We are proud to produce the most offshore wind energy in the world, to have a thriving nuclear industry, and to invest in carbon capture and storage.

I know that Bulgaria also wants to modernise its economy. You are making major investments in energy efficiency, to tackle heating costs for households and to increase your industrial competitiveness. You wish to increase your nuclear production, generating clean energy. And I know that Bulgarian citizens are educated about environmental challenges and understand the risk of climate change. The cost of not modernising our economies – of not embracing clean and efficient energy – would be high. The UK’s former Chief Economist, Lord Stern, estimated it as 5%-20% of global GDP each year.

Energy security is liberalisation and diversification

I know there is debate in Bulgaria about the future of your energy sector. The situation here is familiar to anyone from Britain. Back in the 1980s all electricity generating assets in the UK were state owned.Thirty years on and the picture is unrecognisable. Diversity has become the key to our energy security, and this includes the green economy.

Diversifying supply sources increases your energy security by making you less vulnerable to the interruption of supplies from any particular supplier. Equally having a mix of energy technologies also increases security allowing you to take advantage of the vast array of energy production out there (come rain, snow or shine). Diversification makes energy more affordable, by encouraging competition and  stopping monopolies holding customers to ransom. More affordable energy prices improves our economic competitiveness, helping to create jobs and growth.

During my visit to Bulgaria I heard a large array of opportunities available to diversify and make more secure your energy supply. From regional gas interconnectors that will make Bulgaria a hub for connectivity in the Balkans and a vital link to new energy supplies in Central Asia, to new nuclear projects and new green sector companies. You are starting a journey that we have already embarked upon; we stand ready to support you with the lessons and experiences we have encountered in the development of our own energy sector. UK businesses have world-class expertise that can help you on this journey to diversification and reform. The UK stands ready to provide expert advice.

About Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen was British Ambassador to Bulgaria from from 2012 to 2015. He then returned to the UK to take up the position of Director for National Security at the…

Jonathan Allen was British Ambassador to Bulgaria from from 2012 to 2015. He then returned to the UK to take up the position of Director for National Security at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

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