The Slovenia Times

Slovenia's nuclear energy expansion gains further momentum

The Podgorica research reactor near Ljubljana. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

The National Assembly has adopted a resolution on long-term peaceful use of nuclear energy in Slovenia that promotes further use and development of nuclear energy, including by expanding the sole existing nuclear power plant in Krško. The MPs also endorsed a proposal for a referendum on Krško 2, which is expected to take place in late November.

In a rare display of almost full bipartisan support, the vast majority of the deputies agreed on 23 May that given the planned closure of the Šoštanj coal-fired plant and the expanded life-span of the current reactor in Krško ending in 2043, solar and wind energy would not suffice to meet Slovenia's energy needs.

The consultative referendum will ask voters whether they support the execution of the Krško 2 project, "which, together with other low-carbon sources, will ensure a stable electricity supply".

The resolution is another move seen as the country's acknowledgement of the importance of nuclear energy.

Titled Nuclear Energy for Slovenia's Future, the document says that nuclear energy is a strategic energy source that plays an important role in achieving climate change mitigation targets, and as such it should be part of energy policy together with renewables.

The resolution supports the Krško 2 project, noting its strategic importance for Slovenia's long-term and reliable energy supply and low-carbon transition, but it also mentions the possibility of small modular reactors. It advocates for nuclear R&D and the training programmes needed to fulfil the needs of the nuclear industry.

Critical voices

The only party that rejected both the resolution and the referendum proposal was the Left.

The junior coalition party said the referendum was about getting a blank cheque for a potentially unviable project, and added that the vote on the resolution should have been postponed until after the referendum outcome was known. The Left believes the sole purpose of the document is to further cement the construction of Krško 2.

They were joined by a few other MPs in their opposition to the resolution, which was described as being too much of a nuclear "cheerleader" document by Miroslav Gregorič, an MP for the ruling party Freedom Movement and a nuclear safety expert.

The referendum proposal has also elicited criticism from environmentalists and President Nataša Pirc Musar, who recently said the Krško 2 project raised more questions than it answered.

Although being a supporter of nuclear energy, Pirc Musar warned the public had not been informed properly about the project, a position also expressed by the Youth for Climate Justice NGO and the Climate Council, an advisory body to the government.

Energy company Gen Energija has said that if Krško 2 had a capacity of 1,000 to 1,650 megawatts - financing costs excluded but expected inflation taken into account, the project's estimated value would be between €9.3 billion and €15.4 billion.

However, Gregorič says that the Krško 2 cost estimates and debates have neglected escalation factors and nuclear waste storage issues.

The Krško plant is half owned by Slovenia and half by Croatia. The state-owned energy company Gen Energija, which holds the Slovenian stake, is currently the only investor in a potential Krško 2, although Croatia's HEP is considering taking part in the project as well.

Representatives of the Slovenian corporate sector have said they are willing to co-finance the project, because they want to avoid the country falling into energy dependence.


More from Energy