Slovenia will replace coal with renewables and nuclear – minister
Date: January 19th 2022
Author: Valerija Hozjan
Slovenia intends to use new technologies, including renewables and nuclear, to replace its coal capacity, infrastructure minister Jernej Vrtovec said at a press conference on Tuesday.The Slovenian government approved a national coal phase-out strategy last week, which envisages the end of coal energy production in that country by 2033 at the latest.
Calling this deadline ambitious but achievable, Vrtovec said that Slovenia could successfully replace coal, which represents one third of the country’s current power production, by constructing a new nuclear unit, extending the operational life of the existing unit at the Krsko nuclear power plant and developing its renewables sector. It also plans to use natural gas as a transitional energy source.
However, miners’ unions and the Velenje municipality, where Slovenia’s only coal-fired power plant Sostanj is located, say that the strategy does not offer a solution for the jobs that will be lost during this transition. In a press release issued on Tuesday, Velenje municipal mayor Peter Dermol also stated that it was unrealistic to think that Slovenia would succeed in replacing its coal capacity by this date.
Vrtovec dismissed both these claims, emphasising that the national coal phase-out strategy was drawn up after intensive cooperation with stakeholders and that the Savinjsko-Saleska coal region and the Velenje municipality will receive financial support. He also pointed out that the government would be able to access EUR 248.38m from the EU’s Just Transition Fund (JTF) over the next two years to ensure that this energy transition is fair.
The national strategy calls for the drafting of regional plans that should include detailed planning on how the energy transition will be conducted in those areas. Furthermore, the strategy foresees the creation of a coordinating body that will be responsible for the implementation and monitoring of those regional plans.
Now that the national coal phase-out strategy has been adopted, the government needs to pass legislation that will permit the gradual closure of the Velenje coal mine and the restructuring of the Savinjska-Saleska region. This should happen within the next six months.