Electricity

Slovenia’s coal plant TEŠ could close already within three years

Slovenia coal plant TES close already within three years

Photo: TEŠ

Published

May 6, 2024

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Published:

May 6, 2024

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Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob has acknowledged that the country’s only coal plant TEŠ and its accompanying mine may end operations before the expected closure in 2033. It would happen “not because of politics, not because of the climate, but because of economics,” he pointed out.

Slovenia’s state-owned energy company Holding Slovenske elektrarne (HSE) expects significant losses in the operation of the last coal-fired thermal power plant Termoelektrana Šoštanj (TEŠ) and the Premogovnik Velenje mine. An analysis is underway as a basis for decisions on the division and it is expected to be completed in the second half of the year. Prime Minister Robert Golob has confirmed that it includes scenarios for closure or sharp production cuts within the next three years.

The country’s strategy envisages the shutdown by 2033. But the division is seen suffering more than EUR 2 billion in operating losses by then, Dnevnik reported earlier, citing projections that it obtained. It could threaten HSE’s existence. The company is also considering the possibility of spinning off TEŠ and the firm operating the mine into a separate entity.

HSE is examining a scenario of spinning off the coal plant and mine into a separate company

Golob said he doesn’t believe the coal plant would last until 2032 “not because of politics, not because of the climate, but because of the economy.”

Uncompetitiveness, the cost of greenhouse gas emission certificates and the introduction of stricter environmental rules are jeopardizing such facilities in other Southeastern European countries as well, especially Bulgaria. On the other hand, as part of the energy market design reform, the European Union will allow member states to provide financial support to essential power plants through so-called capacity mechanisms.

Slovenia’s coal workers, entire area require just transition

HSE told state news agency STA that it is working on solutions for coal miners and other workers and stakeholders. The closure of TEŠ and Premogovnik Velenje wouldn’t be such an issue from an energy point of view as it would financially and socially, the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy pointed out.

The plan to restructure the facility includes the installation of a floating solar power plant, hydrogen production and other new technologies. The ministry added it could be possible to cover the losses from TEŠ’s operations with renewables.

Slovenia is eligible for EUR 259 million from the EU’s Just Transition Fund. There is EUR 174 million for the Savinja and Šalek coal region (Savinjsko-šaleška regija – SAŠA), where TEŠ and its mine are located, and EUR 75 million for the Zasavje area, where there was a coal plant and mining complex.

There are 2,000 employees in Premogovnik Velenje, including activities other than coal production, and 300 in TEŠ.

EU scolds Bulgaria over fossil fuel subsidies

As for Bulgaria, the European Commission recently criticized its draft update of the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (INECP or just NECP). It lacks ambition and details on measures to achieve 2030 goals, according to the recommendations.

The government in Sofia should significantly improve the plan, including by adding a carbon capture target and being more concrete concerning the fight against energy poverty, the commissioners said. In addition, Bulgaria needs to determine how and when it will completely end subsidizing fossil fuels and move away from them in energy production, the document reads.

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