Bulgaria's Zlaten Lev Holding Plans To Enter Renewable Energy Business

SOFIA (Bulgaria), October 29 (SeeNews) - Bulgarian diversified holding group Zlaten Lev Holding said on Wednesday it plans to enter the renewables energy business by building a solar energy plant in the country.

The holding group will invest some 1.0 million levs ($654,000/511,000 euro) in a 122 kilowatt (kW) solar plant with a capacity to produce 157 megawatthours (MWh) of energy annually on the roof of its furniture making plant Novalis in Pazardzhik, in southern Bulgaria, its executive director Petar Alexandrov told a news conference. Currently, Novalis is mostly renting out its industrial space.

The company is awaiting a building permit to start installing 1,540 solar panels on a total area of 6,000 square metres. Once it gets the permit, it will need three to six months to start construction and two or three months to complete the installation.

"In any case, in six months we will know if there is an unsurmountable obstacle [to the project's implementation]," Alexandrov said.

Zlaten Lev will finance the project with a loan from UniCredit Bulbank, a unit of Italy's UniCredit, and a grant from the European Investment Bank. It expects a profitability of 17% and to recoup the investment in seven to nine years. 

The company has already signed a preliminary deal to connect the plant to the grid of distribution company EVN Bulgaria, to which it will sell the whole amount of the energy it produces for a period of 12 years. The plant will reduce CO2 emmissions by 130 tonnes a year and by a total of 3,250 tonnes during its 25-year lifespan.

If the project proves successful, the company would consider more investments in solar energy, Alexandrov said. These are conservative, long-term projects that do not offer high return on investment but are nevertheless attractive to investors, he added. 

Zlaten Lev Holding (www.zlatenlev.com), set up in 1999, is a former privatisation fund with operations in furniture making, water bottling, metallurgy, electronics and financial services. The holding group had a net profit of 1.6 million levs last year, up 33.3% on the year.

No shares in the group, which are among the less liquid ones on the local equity market, were traded on Wednesday. They last changed hands on Tuesday, surging 24.3% to 1.28 levs in a volume of just 10 stocks. 

(1 euro = 1.95583 Bulgarian levs)

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