Brikel power station

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Brikel power station is an operating power station of at least 200-megawatts (MW) in Obruchiste, Galabovo, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria with multiple units, some of which are not currently operating. It is also known as Maritsa Itzok-1 power station.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Brikel power station Obruchiste, Galabovo, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria 42.1546, 25.9068 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1: 42.154555, 25.906814
  • Unit 2: 42.154555, 25.906814
  • Unit 3: 42.154555, 25.906814
  • Unit 4: 42.154555, 25.906814
  • Unit 5: 42.154555, 25.906814
  • Unit 6: 42.154555, 25.906814

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 operating coal - lignite 50 MW subcritical - -
Unit 2 operating coal - lignite 50 MW subcritical - -
Unit 3 operating coal - lignite 50 MW subcritical - -
Unit 4 operating coal - lignite 50 MW subcritical - -
Unit 5 mothballed coal - lignite 50 MW subcritical - -
Unit 6 mothballed coal - lignite 50 MW subcritical - -

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner Parent
Unit 1 Brikel EAD Brikel EAD
Unit 2 Brikel EAD Brikel EAD
Unit 3 Brikel EAD Brikel EAD
Unit 4 Brikel EAD Brikel EAD
Unit 5 Brikel EAD Brikel EAD
Unit 6 Brikel EAD Brikel EAD

Project-level captive use details

  • Captive industry use (heat or power): Power
  • Captive industry: Coal mining & coal products

Project-level coal details

  • Coal source: Troyanovo 1 coal mine, troyanovo 3 coal mine


  • Source of financing:


BRIKEL EAD power station incorporates the old TPP Maritza East 1 and the Briquette factory. TPP Maritza East 1 is the first thermal power plant of the Maritsa Iztok Complex. The six 50 MW units were built in 1959-1962.[1]

The plant is associated with the businessman Hristo Kovachki.[2]

When the license of Brikel EAD expired in 2011, the Ministry of Economy and Energy extended it for another 10 years.[3]

Lignite coal is supplied by the Maritsa Coal Mines.

Units Installed

Information on the units installed is not fully transparent.

In 2011, it was reported that Brikel resumed operations after installing desulphurization installations at four of its six units in compliance with the EU’s environmental requirements. Back then it was reported that the plant had been operating three of its six units units, with the fourth unit in reserve, and operating at a capacity of 70MW of its maximum capacity of 100MW (the two 50 MW working units).[4]

The company reportedly retired unit 6 in 2012. Unit 4 has been on standby, and unit 5 has been deactivated, but they are not officially retired.[1] Brikel EAD has tried to put the three units back online, but the Bulgarian Executive Environment Agency denied a permit for them in 2015. The Agency's decision was upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria in March 2018, which said that the plant had systematically failed to comply with environmental laws. The court noted breaches of the current permit including violations of air quality standards and the lack of a landfill site for waste generated by the plant.[5]

As of 2020, installed capacity of the plant was reported at 200 MW.[6]

Environmental Controversies

In August 2018, environmental lawyers challenged an assessment by the regional environment authority of Stara Zagora that the plant owners could also burn petrochemicals, biomass, and waste at the plant without the usual Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), because there was "no likely environmental harm".[7]

It emerged in 2021 that the Brikell power station and the Bobov Dol power station, both associated with the businessman Hristo Kovachki, may have underreported carbon dioxide emissions for the past three years. The two plants together may have avoided paying the EU between 26.6 million and 32.2 million euros. Officials at both plants denied inaccurately reporting emissions.[8]

In May 2022, the European Court of Justice has ruled that people in the south-eastern region of Bulgaria have been living in a highly polluting environment for years due to illegal levels of SO2 pollution from four large coal plants in the area - Brikel power plant, and three plants of the Maritsa Iztok complex.[9]

In July 2022, the Prime Minister and Environment Minister of Bulgaria toured the plant and found "mind-boggling violations". This was after years of local residents complaining about pollution and the accumulation of black dust associated with the operation. The plant was ordered to shut down. However, a court suspended the order in a final resolution, and the plant was permitted to continue operating.[10]

In February 2023, Bulgarian organised crime unit and the national security agency have raided the offices of coal-fired thermal power plants directly owned by or connected to controversial local businessman Hristo Kovachki.[11]

In June 2023, it was reported that the plant will undergo an overhaul, or as the company called it an 'energy transformation'. In March 2023, the overhaul of steam generator 1 was completed, with more than 90% of all components replaced. New thermal insulation and high temperature protection of the furnace chamber, ceiling and gas ducts were installed. The reconstruction of steam generator 2 and 5 was underway. The final stage involves the reconstruction of the last 2 steam generators, which are in reserve. The plans are to complete the rehabilitation of steam generator 4 by the end of October 2023 and that of steam generator by the end of 2023.[12] In parallel, the construction of a second flue gas purification plant to achieve the required air quality, according to European legislation, began. Finally, the plan is to replace the fuel oil used for start-up operations with natural gas. Total investment of just over 30 million euros was carried out with full self-financing.[12]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Brikel EAD – Galabovo," energoproekt, accessed March 2016
  2. "Bulgarian Coal Magnate's Plants May Have Saved Around 30M Euros by Under-Declaring Emissions". July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. "The Suffocating Grip Of Coal," Greenpeace, Nov 1, 2013
  4. "Bulgarian Coal-Fired Power Plant Brikel Resumes Operations," Power Market, July 27, 2011
  5. "Judges deny Bulgarian power plant expansion over illegal pollution", Client Earth, 26 March 2018
  6. "Производство на електроенергия". unknown. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "Court challenge as Bulgarian authorities skip pollution test for power plant," Client Earth, 3 August 2018
  8. "Bulgarian Coal Magnate's Plants May Have Saved Around 30M Euros by Under-Declaring Emissions". July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has confirmed that Bulgaria breached EU rules on air pollution because it failed to address sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution from super-polluting coal plants". / May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "'We Breathe Filth': A Bulgarian Town's Losing Battle Against A Domineering Coal Plant," Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, 19 August 2022
  11. "Bulgarian police raid coal-fired power plants in EPPO fraud probe". February 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 "ТЕЦ "Брикел" стартира план за енергийна трансформация „Brikel Re Pоwer"". June 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.