Slovenia yet to tap into its wind energy potential
There are only two operating wind turbines in Slovenia - a 2.3-megawatt and 0.9-megawatt installation, both in the south-west near the Karst plateau Nanos, and investors of both had faced resistance by certain local communities while obtaining permits and putting the turbines in place.
Some locals were concerned over potential health issues caused by low frequency noise emitted by wind turbines. They were also bothered by wind farms changing the landscape.
Last year, the output of the two wind turbines was equivalent to just 0.04% of Slovenia's energy consumption, Energy Agency director Duška Godina has told the STA. They generated six gigawatt hours of electricity, a tenth of one percent of total renewables production in the country.
The statistics show Slovenia ranks near the EU's very bottom in exploiting wind power resources, only Malta and Slovakia are worse.
On the other hand, countries excelling at tapping this potential are Denmark (41% of energy consumption), Ireland (28%) and Portugal (24%).
Slovenia's wind energy potential not ideal
Even though Slovenia seems to be far from a perfect destination for capitalising on wind energy - the country lies in central Europe, far from the wind-swept Atlantic Ocean and not close enough to the vast Pannonian Plain - research shows it is still windy enough to effectively implement wind power technology, according to the Wind Energy Association.
The Infrastructure Ministry agrees that the wind energy potential in Slovenia is not ideal or comparable to other countries', but the potential is there and if tapped, could be economically beneficial.
It has told the STA that "this has been proved by wind measurements and the investment programmes which have already been created by potential investors so far", adding that Slovenia has "a lot of opportunities for tapping the wind energy potential".
Interest in building wind farms exists
There are currently eight national spatial plans for wind farms in the process of development at the Environment Ministry, of which three wind farms are planned in western Slovenia and five in the east.
All the projects are in the preparation phase; however, some local communities are already up in arms, making obtaining permits more difficult.
Renewable energy resource projects also also supported by the Energy Agency's existing feed-in tariff scheme. A total of 166 projects have been selected in four open calls published so far, of which 62 are wind farm projects totalling 215 megawatt.
Permits, wind farm location main stumbling blocks
According to Godina, the wind turbine siting stage is when things get complicated. During the last open call for new renewable projects for the feed-in tariff scheme, building permits were added as a condition for applying to ensure that the submitted projects were more viable.
The move resulted in applications for major wind projects drying up, said Godina.
She urged the state to promote a broad social consensus on the siting of renewable energy infrastructure and adopt measures that would ease and speed up administrative procedures.
According to the Infrastructure Ministry, the National Energy and Climate Plan, which is in the making, will back such initiatives. "If only one wind farm comes to fruition, it would prove it is possible to do it in Slovenia and serve as a great encouragement for future investors."