Slovenia: the only way ahead is nuclear

So easy to reduce the CO2 emissions. The answer of the Slovenian government is: more nuclear. Today it joined the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, under the leadership of the US.

It’s true that the recent EU Energy debates have seen a revival of the pro & contra nuclear energy groups, but the stand of the Slovenian government seems simplistic. It looks like the only serious method of reducing CO2 emissions and thus complying with the new CO2 reduction committments of the EU, is nuclear. It also seems that the only new source of energy that Slovenia will seriously consider is another nuclear reactor alongside the current one in Krško. Although scientific comments point to the fact that there is not enough cold water to cool the plant…there is almost no debate on renewables or alternative sources of energy. The only wind-energy project, was a flop.

I would of course not dare to say that it’s related to the strong pro-nuclear position of Romana Jordan Cizelj, MEP (EPP) who has always been the “energy minister” in the shadow of the Janša government. So the rumour goes.

I wonder what the reactions will be tomorrow when the news makes it to the main newspapers.

7 thoughts on “Slovenia: the only way ahead is nuclear”

  1. Hi Marko, I was directed to your blog by a mutual friend:) Since this is sort of “my” field, here is a brief note.

    Without making judgements, let me throw in some figures that portray the reality of our energy sector, where renewables unfortunately cannot be idealised.

    Total electricity supply in Slovenia in 2006 was 10.686 GWh, the consumption being 13.007 GWh. Now, if we take into account the utilisation of the planned new HPPs at Lower and Central Sava River, Avče (Soča River), Mura and Idrijca River, we come to the figure of 2856 GWh of additional supply by 2025 at best (not taking into account the likely complications of placing these facilities in physical space). Till 2015 we can thus speak of only around 1176 GWh of additional hydro electricity supply.

    Taking into account the estimated yearly growth of consumption of 1,9 % (which is rather optimistic), by 2015 the consumption will be somewhere between 15.000 – 16.000 GWh.

    Besides large hydro potential, other RES potential in Slovenia till 2015 is estimated around 2.600 GWh (including small and micro HPPs, biomass, biogas, wind, solar, thermal, cogeneration). Adding this to large hydro we come to the figure of additional 3776 GWh till 2015.

    These are the rough limitations of renewable electricity generation in Slovenia. How does nuclear sound now? Nevertheless, I think the basic debate should not evolve around renewables vs. nuclear, rather it should be about efficient energy use – but this is certainly not as popular an option as RES, since we, the consumers, should play a key role.


  2. Sasa, thanks for dropping by. Wow, you really got tough on me with the numbers! Yes, I understand the limitations, but this could be said for almost any corner in the world, but there are still places that produce energy differently. Germany as well had a different debate, Sweden voted to phase-out nuclear (never implemented)…There are also countries that are energy dependent, it could be an option as well.

    What I wanted to stress with my entry is that the “going more nuclear” is just too simple. We still have problems with the repository of the used fuel, we have disagreements with Croatia over the managing of the current nuclear power plant, we have problems with cooling the current one…etc, yet we commit to more nuclear.

    And as you correctly mention in the last sentence: It’s a lot about reduction of consumption, not additional production. With a new reactor and cheap energy, people/industry will not really be motivated to reduce their consumption.

    It’s almost like selling gasoline cheap in the US and then asking the car producers to make cars that consume less.


  3. Marko,

    Sorry about the numbers:) I am just doing some research in this field at the moment and they were handy to explain my point.

    Anyway, I recommend reading the latest IEA report on Germany and its declared desire to phase-out nuclear – IEA estimates Germany will not be able to reach its “full potential” on CO2 targets, if phase-out actually takes place.

    And energy dependency is not an option, not if you can help it.

    The answer is diversification, using/exploring all available environmentally sound options – on the supply and on the demand side. Recommend exploring Eurelectric’s Role of Electricity project – it is somewhat bias since it glorifies electricity, but it is interesting to see the conclusion: that the most sustainable scenario is the most balanced scenario. Who would have guessed?:)


  4. No worries about the numbers, I think they put us in the right place most of the time. But sometime they scare ambition and they can turn down a political goal.

    But still, there was not much in the news. There is almost no public debate about the second reactor for the Krsko nuclear plant, and there are still disagreements on how to handle the coal plants in Slovenia. Not to mention the construction of the hydro plants.

    The German case tells us, similarly the Swedish, that the phase out is not easy, especially for the industries. But it might be the only way to radically reduce consumption and look for alternatives.

    Because there is for me one basic thing that speaks against nuclear and that’s the permanent security risk. This is why I would, no matter what arguments there might be, never agree to expanding the current nuclear capacity, but to actually phase it out. We can then look for solutions beyond the scale of Slovenia.


  5. Saša is right. Energy efficiency is a real problem in Slovenia.
    The European Commission reminded about that in its last year’s assessment on the Lisbon strategy progress report for Slovenia. It intends to do the same this year. Actually, even Ljubljana admits that out of 14 billion tolars planned for energy efficiency actions (planned under National Energy Programme) only 1 billion was realised.
    Marko, any new plans on the government side?


  6. Thanks Peter. Well, I remember once that the Prime Minister advised the populations to consume less. But this is more or less it.

    Seriously, probably Sasa can tell us more about the plans of the government. I don’t see much beyond them building a new nuclear and closing some of the thermo power plants.

    Anything on energy efficiency?

    Ah, true, we will get more rules on competition in the energy sector soon through the EU.


  7. There are some new hydro powerplants on the way on Sava River – expected operation in 2018 (Lower Sava) and in 2025 (Middle Sava). These investments will bring additional 1700 GWh of “green” electricity per year. For comparison: Krško generates around 500 GWh in a month.

    Incentives regarding energy efficiency for companies are practically non existent, some progress is being made in the household sector. All in all – not to brag about.

    I could write a disertation on the third legislative package – in short, another not very promising compromise. Expect a fourth one:)


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