Slovenia’s only coal-fired thermal power plant TEŠ is on track to lose up to EUR 150 million this year at curent prices of CO2 certificates, CEO of ELES Aleksander Mervar said, warning that the government must immediately prepare for a coal phaseout. Furthermore, he stressed, the country needs 250 MW more in systemic reserve capacity.
There are two major power plants in Slovenia: Termoelektrarna Šoštanj (TEŠ) and nuclear power plant Krško (NEK). Chief Executive Officer of ELES Aleksander Mervar said TEŠ, the only coal-fired thermal power plant, should be kept going as long as it can produce 3.7 TWh per year and its losses don’t exceed the Eco Fund’s income. Slovenia shouldn’t rely on gas for its energy future as it is a small customer at the end of existing pipelines, which makes expenses too high, according to the head of the country’s transmission system operator.
However, he said, TEŠ should install a cogeneration facility there with the capacity of 40 MW to meet heating needs if it can get financing from the European Union’s Just Transition Fund. Official data from 2018 show the share of Slovenia’s low carbon capacity tops the EU average by 27%, the ELES head underscored.
Government needs be clear about challenges in coal phaseout
Mervar also proposed building gas turbines at the same location to boost strategic reserve capacity if the country decides to turn to renewables. Slovenia needs 250 MW on top of the existing 400 MW in the category so that it can make up for the shortfall at times of increased demand and low winds and solar power output, he said.
The government must set a date as soon as possible for the closure of the Velenje coal mine, which supplies TEŠ, and make it clear that the transition would be rough, Mervar asserted and highlighted the fact that lignite would run out. He pointed out that high-paying jobs would be replaced with those dependent on the labor market, so that the wages would be lower and it would also impact the secondary and tertiary sectors.
If new technologies turn out to be commercially viable, there will be disputes between the proponents of renewables and those that favor nuclear power
At current prices of carbon-dioxide emission certificates, TEŠ is set to generate up to EUR 150 million in losses this year and the costs could still rise, Mervar said. Conversion to gas cogeneration is costly and the CO2 expenses would only be halved, he claimed.
Slovenia also needs to extend the operation of NEK 1 until 2043 and select a potential strategic partner for NEK 2 and make a final decision by 2026 if it would build it, Mervar suggested.
By then it will be clear if new technologies for storage and turning electricity into gas are commercially viable, he added. If they are, there will be disputes between the proponents of renewables and those that favor nuclear power, the CEO stressed.
Slovenia introduces voltage regulation device with capacitive character
Of note, ELES said it has just successfully tested the connection of a capacitor with a fixed capacity of 100 MVAr (mega volt ampere reactive) to the electricity grid in substation Divača. The new unit and other compensation devices will contribute to voltage control in the Slovenian and Croatian electricity grids.
It is the first such device with a capacitive character built into the domestic power system. ELES said it would use it in case of low voltages in the Slovenian 400 kV transmission network to add reactive power and maintain stability.