Execs for clear timeline of coal phaseout

Ljubljana – Business executives from Savinja-Šalek, a region with a major coal-fired power station and a coal mine, want a clear timeline of Slovenia’s planned phasing out of coal by 2033, as well as a stable new source of electricity, as businesses are expected to expand and need more electricity in the future.

The management board of the regional chamber of commerce discussed on Thursday the draft national strategy to phase out coal and restructure Slovenia’s two coal regions.

The executives believe the document should ensure a fair transition with equal treatment of all four pillars – the economic, energy, social and environmental pillar.

Premogovnik Velenje coal mine director Janez Rošer said the most ambition scenario of coal phaseout in Savinja-Šalek region by 2033 is dominated by the environmental aspect.

But in terms of social consequences, the year 2033 will bring major challenges not just for the coal mine but for the entire region, he argued.

By some estimates, phasing out coal would affect as many as 10,000 people in the region, he said.

Rošer also urged setting down a timeline of key events on the way to the phaseout. Who is responsible for each stage and what happens it it is not met should also be determined.

Several members of the chamber’s management board highlighted the need to ensure a stable and large enough source of electricity once TEŠ and Premogovnik Velenje are closed, noting that TEŠ produces around a third of electricity generated in Slovenia.

“Counting solely on electricity imports is utopian,” said Samo Mirnik from KLS Ljubno.

EBA Flora director Cvetka Tinauer meanwhile said it is not clear whether 2033 means the coal mine will be already closed or it will start being closed, calling for the exact date of closure to set.

But the director of the regional development agency, Biljana Škarja, explained the idea is that the coal mine stops mining coal for TEŠ in 2033.

The draft strategy is in public consultation until 15 April.

It envisages three scenarios for phasing out coal, in 2033, 2038 and 2042, but the Infrastructure Ministry proposes the most ambitions one, arguing it would have the smallest negative impact on the environment, nature, people’s health and cultural heritage.

The other region the strategy applies to is nearby Zasavje, which however no longer has an active mine or thermal power station.