Jože Bajuk: Slovenia's Petrol Will Be an Even Stronger Regional Energy Player
Date: February 4th 2021
Author: Alenka Lena Klopčič
The Slovenian energy company Petrol is no longer just an oil company, known in the country for its many service stations, but has become an energy company operating in the field of renewable energy sources (RES), energy services, and electricity and gas supply. Is all this already a part of the energy transition which is now gaining speed and how well is the largest Slovenian energy company prepared for the more stringent targets set out by the European Commission? This was the first question tackled in Energetika.NET’s video interview with a member of Petrol’s Management Board (which was appointed last year), Jože Bajuk, who will also take part in the virtual En.odmev 021 event on Thursday 4 March. The interview starts off with the energy transition before touching upon the related effects of the pandemic, while focusing mainly on Petrol’s plans and vision, which are clearly marked by the energy transition, as demonstrated by investments in renewables in Slovenia, Croatia, and in other neighbouring countries.
On the energy transition and the effect of the pandemic
Petrol has been active in other fields beside oil for quite some time now, noted Bajuk, answering the introductory question relating to the energy transition. He added that the forms of energy which are available and which consumers are demanding have been changing for a while now, and these changes in the market are also reflected in Petrol’s operations. The company is taking part in the energy transition both due to its consumers and due to the requirements, that is, the regulations, which therefore present another motive. According to Bajuk, the energy transition will remain a fundamental part of the continued development of the company’s strategy.
Asked how the pandemic has affected the transition in general, as well as Petrol’s own operations, Bajuk replied that in such a short time, the pandemic has not had a notable effect on the actual transition, especially not on the industrial consumer side, although the effect can be seen in mobility. The company is seeing an increase in the sale of solar panels and heat pumps, which points to a swifter transition in the household consumer segment.
On the role of hydrogen and the importance of renewable energy
Regarding the role of hydrogen, to which the EU has been paying a lot of attention lately, Bajuk noted that we should be wary of seeing electrification as the ultimate solution, adding that we will still need a fuel that will help balance energy consumption, especially in relation to renewables – in this sense, he believes hydrogen can provide the answer. According to Bajuk, this will lead to a wider range of energy products at Petrol, although there will not be a clear switch from a specific energy product to hydrogen exclusively.
In light of this, Bajuk emphasised the growing importance of producing electricity from solar and wind within the company which is now strengthening its presence in renewables also in neighbouring Croatia where it plans to launch the 30 MW Ljubač wind park in April 2021 (MORE). This will be the first wind park built by Petrol without any financial support or subsidies. Bajuk added that in terms of profits, electricity is a completely different product than oil. At the same time, he noted that the wind energy potential is actually quite significant in the markets of southeast Europe.
The Petrol Group is working on or has already concluded 200 MW of wind and solar power projects, which is enough to meet the needs of about 100,000 average household consumers.
On gas as a transition fuel and on e-mobility as a service
So would it make sense for SEE to switch from thermal power plants directly to renewables or will gas still play an interim/transitional role? According to Bajuk, gas will definitely act as a transitional energy product – if nothing else because of the existing infrastructure, but also because a direct switch to renewables would be too costly.
Additionally, Bajuk believes that oil will remain a part of our lives for quite some time, despite the fact that its consumption is rapidly decreasing in households, as they switch from oil fuel to heat pumps.
In terms of e-mobility, as explained by Bajuk, Petrol is opening up to new partnerships with which it can co-create the needed infrastructure, with e-mobility as a service presenting another segment. Bajuk notes that according to statistics, individuals cover no more than 100 km per day on average.
The function of sales unchanged, but the way it is carried out is different
In light of all this, Slovenia’s largest energy company expects to see increased competition in the market – in all the segments. Primarily, as noted by Bajuk, the offer will adapt to the needs of the buyers/consumers, which, due to the energy transition, are being put in the forefront of energy development as a whole.
“The function of sales is unchanged, but the way it is carried out is different,” he stressed.
The Croatian market – also due to Petrol’s recent acquisition of Crodux Derivati Dva – is becoming even more important for the company than it has been until now, said Bajuk when asked by Energetika.NET about Petrol’s main focus for this year and its vision for 2030. Follow this link to find out more!
Watch the whole video interview HERE (in Slovenian only)!
This article is available also in Slovene.
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