Electricity

Mervar: Electricity from Krško 2 nuclear project won’t be cheaper then EUR 125 per MWh

aleksander mervar eles krsko solar slovenija

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Published

March 27, 2024

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Published:

March 27, 2024

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The Krško 2 nuclear power plant won’t be completed before 2040 and the electricity it will generate won’t be cheap, CEO of Slovenia’s transmission system operator ELES Aleksander Mervar said. He also advised the government to start building gas power plants to prevent the need for large electricity imports.

In an interview with RTV Slovenia, Aleksander Mervar spoke about the current state of the Slovenian energy sector and possible development strategies and said the creators of energy policy face difficult decisions. The ELES CEO criticized the deficiencies of batteries and highlighted the issues deriving from distributed electricity generation.

Mervar said he supports Slovenia’s current strategy, based on a mix of renewable sources and nuclear energy. One factor is missing, especially in the transition period, sometime from the end of this decade until the start of production at Krško 2 – new gas power plants, the cheapest and the fastest solution, he added.

The head of the Slovenian TSO said such facilities are a strategic reserve for crises while that in regular times the system needs a reserve capacity matching the largest unit in the system. His third argument is that green hydrogen, when the technology for its production using excess stored electricity is mature and cost-effective, can be burned in gas-fired power plants.

Without gas power plants, electricity imports will increase

If gas power plants are not built, import dependence will increase until Krško 2 comes online, Mervar said.

He pointed out that he supports the nuclear power plant project while clarifying that he is critical of the claims it would secure cheap electricity. Mervar said it is too early for an estimate of the investment, but he mentioned the example of the Hinkley Point C project in the United Kingdom and added it is not the same if a small or large country negotiates the terms of the investment.

The price agreed between the British government and the investor, France’s state-owned EDF, is as high as EUR 150 per MWh, Mervar stressed. He thus expressed the belief that the price of power from a new nuclear plant in Slovenia wouldn’t be lower than EUR 125 per MWh. In addition, in his words, Hinkley Point C is in delay.

Slovenia is not rich enough for an SMR pilot project

According to Mervar, the capacity of Krško 2 should not exceed 1,600 MW. He said he favors 1,100 MW, given the size of Slovenia’s electricity system and the need to build gas power plants with enough capacity to serve as the reserve matching the largest unit in the system.

In view of estimates that the small modular reactor (SMR) technology could become available in 10-15 years and asked to comment the stance of Gen energija, the operator of the old Krško plant, that Slovenia shouldn’t be a guinea pig – one of the first countries to introduce it, Mervar opined that Slovenia isn’t rich enough to host pilot projects, unless someone else finances them entirely.

Slovenia is so small that it would be much better to set up SMRs than one large unit, he said but also pointed to the risk of waiting for the new technology to become available and doing nothing in the meantime.

Mervar said he wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of Tomaž Štokelj and Dejan Paravan, CEOs of Slovenia’s largest electricity producers – Holding Slovenske elektrarne (HSE) and GEN Group, respectively, pointing to their responsibility in planning.

Paravan has to make decisions almost 100 years in advance, but nobody can know today the future price of electricity, Mervar said.

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