Coal phaseout strategy sent into public consultation

Ljubljana, 15 March – The Infrastructure Ministry has launched a public consultation on the draft national strategy to phase out coal and restructure the country’s two coal regions. The document applies to Savinja-Šalek, which has coal-fired power station TEŠ and a coal mine, and to Zasavje, where there are no longer any active mines or thermal plants.

For the Savinja-Šalek region, the ministry has proposed the most ambitions of the three scenarios, which sets down 2033 as the deadline to phase out coal.

For Zasavje region, the ministry was also choosing between three scenarios, opting for the one which entails balanced investments, it said in Monday’s release.

It stressed that ambitious climate and energy goals will not be achievable without enhanced phasing out of coal as one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Entailing phasing out coal mining and the use of coal in Savinja-Šalek by 2033, scenario A would have the smallest negative impact on the environment, nature, people’s health and cultural heritage.

TEŠ, based in the town of Šoštanj, generates around a third of Slovenia’s electricity, so phasing out coal is inextricably linked with the future of companies in the mining group Premogovnik Velenje and energy group HSE as well as their roles within the Slovenian energy market.

Simulations have shown that TEŠ will have used the allowed amount of emissions in mid-2035, that is if the EU’s goal of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 is taken into account.

Scenario B sees coal no longer used by 2038, but to achieve the EU goals, it would entail alleviation measures for excessive emissions, such as adjusting production. While TEŠ’s loans for its investment in generator six will be repaid in 2038, increasing emission coupons prices would put additional pressure on TEŠ’s business.

Scenario C sets down the phasing out of coal by 2042. In this case, measures to alleviate TEŠ’s excessive emissions would severely affect the financial stability of TEŠ and of coal mine Premogovnik Velenje. This scenario would also be the worst in terms of impact on the environment and people’s health.

The impacts of the three scenarios for Zasavje meanwhile do not differ as much. The ministry has opted for what it termed a harmonious one, which represents a balance between enabling an improvement in the quality of living in the region while encouraging business.

This hybrid scenario focuses on developing infrastructure for education, housing and retirements homes while supporting regional businesses, foremost the existing key companies.

It also encourages the mentality of entrepreneurship and connectivity with other regions in the country, while its key risk is a lack of connectivity and balance in planning and implementing projects related to green transition, the ministry said.

The consultation period runs out on 15 April. The ministry will then examine comments and proposals while improving the draft strategy and the environmental report before sending them on to the Environment Ministry. Both documents will then be sent to the government for adoption, which is planned before Slovenia’s EU presidency.