Minister says hydrogen use for energy storage will be a priority

Ljubljana – Speaking at an online conference Energy Innovation ’20 hosted by company Prosperia, Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said on Wednesday that a period of change and innovation in hydrogen technologies, batteries and many other sectors was just beginning. He said a priority would be the use of hydrogen for energy storage.

In this context he pointed to a consortium of Slovenian energy companies – Hidroelektrarne na Spodnji Savi (HESS), Geoplin Plinovodi, ELES and Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE) – which is exploring the option of using hydrogen technologies to optimise the energy sector.

“This is an area that has been developing for 20 years. We have a lot of know-how,” he said.

Pointing to the potential partnerships in business, army and other systems, Vizjak said this “area should receive a lot of attention in the coming years”.

As for individual projects, the minister said those focussing on research were directed by the Research Agency and that in the second phase, when the projects are being introduced to the market, Slovenia had systemic funding available in the Climate Change Fund.

“We have the money for such purposes, and relatively enough of it. Around EUR 60 million comes in every year and we have some EUR 130-140 million in reserves, so we are open for such projects.”

The projects must be led by companies and the initiative for funding must come from them, as they also take on certain risks. The role of the state is to help with the finance, he explained.

Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Blaž Košorok agreed that Slovenia had a lot of know-how in the area of energy transformation but said that it needed to be upgraded, partly redirected and also connected.

But he believes Slovenia faces the biggest challenge in transport, where many technologies intertwine, including electricity, the use of hydrogen, storage technologies and others.

“Hydrogen is the buzz word in all the conferences and meetings of EU energy ministers,” Košorok said. Another promising area is synthetic gas that would make the gas sector greener and has a great potential in energy storage.

He believes a company must recognise the potential profitability of a product or a project. “A company cannot expect to get everything from the state on a plater.”

The officials also commented on the lowering of subsidies for electric cars, with Košorok noting that comparable cars were EUR 2,000-3,000 cheaper in other countries, meaning that the subsidies actually landed with car retailers.

Vizjak agreed, noting that the state typically subsidised new technologies for a certain period to break the ice. A sector cannot develop through subsidies, he stressed, noting that the prices of electric cars were decreasing as their production was expanding.

He also pointed to other benefits. Many municipalities have set up charging stations, where users can charge their vehicles for free. Under the new legislation, these vehicles are also no longer taxed through the motor vehicles tax, he said, adding he was also pushing for tax incentives for company e-cars.