tzanevDear Mr. Tzanev, the reason for our conversation is the current subject of photovoltaic installations. However before we go into further details, It will be interesting for the readers to learn what the modern look of ZMM Bulgaria looks like, an organization that has preserved the experience and traditions of Bulgarian machine building.

ZMM Bulgaria has not only succeeded to preserve but successfully continues to grow the best traditions of Bulgarian machine building in the new market conditions. ZMM Sliven AD is the company where we manufacture our machines and it is a part of ZMM Bulgaria Holding AD, respectively part of the group of Industrial Holding Bulgaria AD which is one of the largest industrial groups in Bulgaria. This year ZMM Sliven celebrates 50 years since its establishment and in its long history the company has produced over 115,000 lathes - including universal, universal with inverter control, cycle, pipe cutting and lathes with computerized control (CNC), which are being successfully sold in nearly 80 countries in the world, including the United States, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, South America, Australia and many others. The lathes produced in Bulgaria have proven over the years their reliability and quality and have made the brand ZMM Bulgaria easily recognizable.
Currently, ZMM Sliven is the only Bulgarian company that produces universal lathes, including in its range some adapted models of other factories for metal cutting machines from the recent past.

Let’s talk about the solar systems, what were the prerequisites which grabbed the attention of ZMM Bulgaria? What steps have been taken towards this direction?

The topics of energy efficiency, green energy and minimal impact on the environment have been goals for a long time in the activities of ZMM Bulgaria, with the clear awareness that this is an integral part of our responsibility to society and sustainable technological and environmentally friendly development of the company. The investments of- ecological nature are gaining special relevance and priority in a world of energy hunger, dynamic development of technologies, products and consumption.

The main goals we set for the construction of the two solar parks are several. In the first place, this is a reduction in electricity costs. For the electricity produced by FvEC the fee "Obligation to the society" for own needs is not charged and some of the network services are not included. This sharply reflects the price of electricity consumed for own needs and the return of investment. At the same time, we achieve long-term provision of a significant part of the production with electricity. The comparison of the amount of electricity produced to the value of the investment determines the real cost of energy produced by the plant, which is significantly lower than the prices on the free market.

We provide price predictability of the products produced by the company based on a fixed price of electricity costs for the next over 10 years with this project. We can generate income from the sale of energy on the free market. We have an improved electricity consumption profile.

The photovoltaic power plants which are in operation have a positive effect on the commitment and motivation of the staff of ZMM Sliven and ZMM Nova Zagora, related to strengthening their commitment to the efficient use of electricity at the workplace and better planning of energy-intensive processes. The company also has a measurable contribution to reducing greenhouse effect gases and carbon dioxide emissions.

The solar park in ZMM Sliven started operating last autumn. What challenges has the project faced? What technical solutions and partners have you relied on in its implementation?

The company is in the field of medium to heavy machine engineering, which puts it in the position of a significant consumer of electricity and other energy sources and materials. There are various technological processes that need significant amount of energy to implement with the required high quality, duration and productivity. The main energy source in the company is electricity. It is used mainly for production needs, as well as for a number of ancillary activities. The annual consumption amounts to about 2500MWh, as the consumed electricity is about 75% of the total energy consumption.
We have started our project for production of green energy in 2019. Inside the area of ZMM Sliven an initial study and then building of mains photovoltaic power plant have begun for own consumption with installed power 1307kWp.
The power plant has been projected and built by our long-term partner Solar Pro Holding AD. We trusted them for support in the next operation. The price of this investment is 1.6 million leva, which was fulfilled with own funds and bank financing by UBB. The facility has been built on an area of 22 decares with orientation of the solar elements to the south.
The capacity of the solar park covers up to 95% depending on the season and as well on the whole consumption of the enterprise. Modern and highly-effective invertors by leading companies in the field are used for transformation of energy and its delivery.
The power plant has been managed by the latest generation of monitoring system which allows analysis of energy flows in real-time. It utilizes equipment by leading producers in the field with optimized design and latest technologies. It allows integration of a modern and complex energy efficiency solution.
By this time, in-factory procedures for reorganizing of consumption, working time and technological processes have been done, aiming maximum usage of the generated energy. This minimizes the energy used from the grid in the summer months.
Тhe conciliation procedures were relatively more time consuming, just because the power plant has been built for own needs and for sale of energy. Longer terms were required due to COVID-19 conditions. Well-known strong winds in Sliven caused additional troubles and the construction has been reinforced additionally. We succeeded at the end.

Photovoltaic power plant was switched on in ZMM Nova Zagora a few days ago. How did the experience gained so far help and what were the differences in its implementation?

The factory in ZMM Nova Zagora has installed power plant of 508kWp. It is our subsidiary and it produces axles, shafts, gears, as well as products for hydraulics. The power plant was built on the roof of main production hall. At this stage, it is used only for own consumption which definitely decreases the expenses and administrative project tasks. This power plant has also been executed by Solar Pro Holding. Its design, construction and commissioning took place within a few months, due to the gained experience, both technological and procedural. Its funding is insured by own funds and a loan by DSK Bank.

The energy production by renewable sources is irregular and it has limited storage ways. By this point, how would you discuss the opportunities for effective energy balance, which insures stability of the production process?

The nature of the work of both companies is such that they are consumers of peak energy, in the light of day. In this sense, the main consumption coincides with the maximum of the energy produced by the plants. In addition, we make efforts to organize the work and direct large consumers in order to make full use of the potential for the production of power plants.
We monitor stock prices daily and try to plan upcoming activities depending on their levels. We also monitor the technical and price development of energy storage devices. It is only a matter of time before we further develop our projects in this direction.

In conclusion, what are the directions for the company's development in the field of "green" energy and energy efficiency?

At the moment we have started research activities for the third company in the holding - IHB Metal Castings. The main activity is metal casting, in which electricity occupies a significant part of the cost of production. We believe that the construction of a photovoltaic plant for own consumption will make the products even more competitive. As part of Industrial Holding Bulgaria, ZMM Bulgaria will continue to set an example of social commitment to climate issues, because for us and for society as a whole more and more on the agenda is not only what we produce, but also how.