Challenges facing Slovenian energy sector discussed at top-level meeting

Brdo pri Kranju – Government ministers and energy sector representatives discussed key frameworks and guidelines on climate change, the decarbonisation of society and the importance of energy in different sectors at Wednesday’s consultation on energy called by Prime Minister Janez Janša.

The purpose of the debate was to shed light on the current situation and projections from different perspectives, and for the invitees to exchange views on the challenges facing the Slovenian energy sector, the prime minister’s office said.

The meeting featured Janša and both deputy prime ministers, Defence Minister Matej Tonin and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, as well as the ministers for infrastructure, finance and environment, and two ministers without portfolio.

Energy sector leaders in attendance included the director of power utility Gen Energija Martin Novšak, and the chairman of electricity distributor Gen-I Robert Golob.

“Slovenia’s energy independence must be strengthened through renewable energy sources, including the second unit of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, and new technologies as well,” Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said after the talks.

The importance of ongoing investments in renewable energy was underlined as well. A key challenge in this regard, according to Vrtovec, are lengthy siting and permitting procedures.

This is holding Slovenia back on the path towards the Green Deal goals, warned Vrtovec. An additional challenge is that Slovenia lacks production from renewable sources. However, Vrtovec recalled that EU funding was available for renewable energy projects.

The PM’s office explained that in the coming years, Slovenia will have access to additional EU cohesion policy funding, the national recovery and resilience plan, the Just Transition Fund and the ReactEU initiative.

The participants discussed the problems related to the Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (TEŠ) and coal, as well as the future of the Slovenian energy sector.

Slovenia is embarking on a challenging path of decision-making related to the investment in the second unit of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, for which it recently issued the energy licence, the PM’s office said.

Another challenge will be the converting surplus energy into hydrogen and finding ways to decarbonise transport, while the issue of cyber-security of energy production and distribution systems is increasingly coming to the fore as well.

“We have a certain vision on how to ensure the security of our energy facilities and how important it is to strengthen the cyber security infrastructure,” Vrtovec said.

Meanwhile, Janša’s office highlighted the record rise in energy prices as one of the current challenges. Participants also drew attention to the EU’s energy dependence on other countries.

The government therefore sees the EU’s green transition as a move towards strategic autonomy in key areas.