Key decision on Krško 2 expected by 1 August
After months of criticism by nuclear energy advocates that the government is neglecting nuclear energy in favour of solar, Prime Minister Robert Golob has provided more clarity by saying the government will make a decision in principle on a second reactor at the existing nuclear power station in Krško by 1 August.
"The journey is long but we are going to take it", he told a public debate in Krško on 16 June in what was arguably his strongest statement yet in favour of Krško 2, though he added that this was "not necessarily irreversible".
He also announced special legislation to speed up the procedure. "If we follow the current legislation, Krško 2 will be built in 2047. /.../ Unless we radically change our approach, we will not live to see it."
Golob mentioned the possibility of several bills dealing with the project, each of which would be put to a referendum.
Teams will have to be set up to deal with the project, he said, announcing that Danijel Levičar, who is currently a director at energy company Gen Energija, would be appointed state secretary at his office to coordinate the work of ministries and other stakeholders in the project.
Combination of nuclear and renewables
Krško currently covers about a third of Slovenia's energy needs and its importance will only grow once Šoštanj, the only coal-fired power station still in operation, is retired, which is supposed to happen in about a decade. In the meantime, renewables capacity will have to be built up.
Even when it stops using coal for energy, Slovenia will need to have diverse sources like it has had so far, so apart from nuclear energy the government will also develop hydro-energy and other renewables, Golob said.
"None of the sources are in competition with each other. We need all of them," he said, noting that electricity needs in the future would be much higher than today.
Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy Bojan Kumer said the national energy and climate plan will be upgraded to set a clear long-term plan for the use of nuclear energy, which will not be restricted to Krško 2 but will allow for wider use of nuclear energy.
Brežan said that the strategy on spatial development by 2050 will also speak of continued use of nuclear energy with the possibility of a second nuclear facility without specifying either the technology or location.
Senior officials have previously indicated that Slovenia might be interested in deploying small modular nuclear reactors, a technology still in its infancy, which would mean multiple nuclear locations with smaller-capacity reactors around the country.
Slovenia open to outside investors
The current plan for Krško 2 is to build a 1.1 GW reactor, but Gen Energija CEO Dejan Paravan said the company had realised that focussing on a single reactor of this power is not optimal as the global circumstances have changed. In line with this, plans will be made for a 1.6 GW reactor.
Current unofficial price estimates for Krško range from under €5 billion to more than €10 billion. The latest nuclear power station to come online in Europe, the 1.6 GW Olkiluoto 3 plant in Finland, cost about €11 billion to build.
Paravan said it is clear Gen Energija cannot finance the project on its own and is open to outside investment. A comprehensive study on the financial structure and business models related to the reactor power will be completed by the end of 2024.
Golob said that everyone who wanted to have long-term access to energy on equal terms should have the opportunity to take part.
"The government will support mixed investor models, not least because it spreads the risks," he said. If there is more interest and it will be more economical to build a larger unit, he believes that no one will object to taking full advantage of the opportunity.