Energy and Climate Plan to be adopted by end-February
Environment Minister Simon Zajc and Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek told the press that, despite the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, the plan would be ready by the end of February.
Bratušek said that this was the deadline the European Commission would not extend and that the document, which was still subject to a public consultation period, would be "confirmed by the government in the last week of February at the latest."
The plan, which also features a vision until 2040, is an extremely important document that the state needs to pave the way for the development of the energy sector, she added.
"The first draft, sent to Brussels at the end of 2018, faced a lot of criticism," Bratušek said, adding that the new draft brought improved objectives for energy and resource efficiency in all sectors.
According to her, the Ministry of Infrastructure proposes an ambitious objective in energy efficiency, more ambitious than that at the EU level. "Slovenia is one of the leading member states in this field."
Objectives in transport are also ambitious, and the plan also envisages a 30% reduction in the consumption of coal by 2030. "We will shut down generator five of the TEŠ thermal power plant and abandon the imports of coal in Ljubljana by then."
Bratušek announced that the possibility of expanding the production of nuclear power would be examined and that decision on whether to build a new reactor at the Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) would be made by 2027.
The minister said that there was no rush in deciding whether Slovenia needed a new nuclear reactor, and that seven years was enough for a comprehensive debate.
Bratušek has no problem with citizens deciding about this in a referendum, but she stressed that "today we get a third of all electricity from the nuclear plant and it should be clearly said how much electricity would cost otherwise."
The plan also proposes gradual reduction in subsidies for the use of fossil fuels and eventual abolition of such subsidies.
"One of the remaining challenges is the future exploitation of hydropower," Bratušek said, adding that the latest draft did not envisage construction of power plants on the middle Sava in this decade.
"We have to find a way to encourage the use of renewables in the protected areas. We have to invest more in research and development and in human resources, which are important for a transition to a climate-neutral society."
Minister Zajc agreed, saying that climate change was one of the key challenges of our time, and that the atmosphere must not warm up by more than one degree Celsius on average by the end of the century.
"Time is running out and the transition which is ahead of us will be expensive, but the consequence of warming are getting even more expensive," he concluded.
The state-owned power utility HSE is disappointed with the plan, as it believes it has failed to recognise the need to implement all planned key projects of the group, which are required to achieve the national climate and energy objectives.
HSE said that the plan did not allow the planning and construction of new hydro power plants and pumped-storage plants, which would negatively affect the level of electricity self-sufficiency, and cause brain drain in this field.
"It is unacceptable that we are giving up on potentially important strategic projects while Slovenia, according to the latest data, belongs to countries which lag behind the renewable energy share target for 2020 the most."
The company added that the planned growth in the production of solar and wind power was, considering the current trends, experience with the siting of facilities and the capacity of the transmission and distribution network, was completely unrealistic.
HSE also regrets that development of pumped-storage power plants as environmentally friendly reservoirs, as well as of gas-powered plants, which would replace coal-fired power to reach decarbonisation goals until 2030, are also not planned.