13 January 2022

Slovenia adopts coal exit plan 

LJUBLJANA, 13 January 2022 – The Slovenian government has announced that it will phase out coal by 2033 at the latest. The plan lacks ambition when compared to the coal phase out dates of peer countries like Slovakia (2030), North Macedonia (2027) and Greece (2025), and falls short of the country’s responsibility on climate change. Nevertheless, it brings a Paris-aligned, pre-2030 coal phase out within reach. 

“Today’s announcement makes Slovenia the 23rd European country to announce a coal exit. It falls short of the 16 that have either already quit coal or will do so by 2030, but as we have seen with the likes of Germany which is now targeting a fossil-free, completely renewables-based power system by 2035, this will easily be superseded by reality,” said Zala Primc, Campaigner, Europe Beyond Coal. “With a pitiful two percent of Slovenia’s electricity currently produced from solar and wind, the government urgently needs to exploit the country’s immense renewable energy potential and avoid the pitfall of fossil gas if it is to steer away from the energy price and supply crises inherent to fossil fuels.” 

Slovenia’s largest coal plant Šoštanj 6 (600MW) was controversially brought online in 2015 – the year the world agreed to the UN Paris climate agreement – and was immediately at risk of becoming a stranded asset. The plant has subsequently amassed 438 million euro in debts, and registered 280 million euro in losses last year alone, proving it to be a terrible investment [1]. A leaked document belonging to state-owned operator Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE) [2] shows that it is on the verge of bankruptcy, and will only be able to pay salaries and other liabilities until this spring at best.

“From day one, it was abundantly clear that Sostanj 6 was not financially viable, and that Slovene taxpayers would be left footing the bill, and we have been proven right. The responsibility for this failure lies squarely with the politicians, energy experts, and investors who banged the drum for this coal project, and with the EIB and the EBRD who endorsed it,” said Dr. Tomislav Tkalec, Energy expert at Focus Association for Sustainable Development. “Šoštanj 6 is up to its neck in debt. The government needs to come clean with coal workers and their communities about the plant’s rapidly approaching closure, and admit to them that Slovenia will not be exiting coal in 2033, but this decade, so that they can plan for the transition of their economies.”

ENDS

Contacts:

Alastair Clewer, Communications Officer, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185

Zala Primc, Campaigner, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +386 40 981 828

Tomislav Tkalec, Energy Expert, Focus Association for Sustainable Development
[email protected], +386 41 278 020

Notes:

  1. https://www.te-sostanj.si/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/03_TES_letno_porocilo_2020_slo_SPLET.pdf
  2. https://necenzurirano.si/clanek/aktualno/tes-se-potaplja-na-pomoc-klicejo-drzavo-902456
  3. Overview of Slovenia’s energy profile: https://www.irena.org/IRENADocuments/Statistical_Profiles/Europe/Slovenia_Europe_RE_SP.pdf
  4. There are currently two coal power plants operating in Slovenia; the combined heat and power plant, TE-TOL, which will switch all but one unit to fossil gas by 2022, and Sostanj, which only plans to burn coal later than 2030 at its unit 6 (600 MW). The Sostanj plant currently produces one third of Slovenia’s electricity. 
  5. A recent study by German think tank Agora Energiewende shows that the power produced by coal could easily be replaced by solar and wind by 2030 if the Slovenian government invests adequately: https://static.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/Projekte/2020/2020_09_EU_Coal_Exit_2030/EU-Coal-phase-out-2030_Datenanhang.pdf
  6. Why Europe must phase-out coal by 2030 to respect the UN Paris climate  agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C: https://climateanalytics.org/briefings/coal-phase-out/
  7. Minutes from Slovenian government meeting referencing coal exit plan: https://www.gov.si/assets/vlada/Seja-vlade-SZJ/2022/sevl109.docx

About: 

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu 

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