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Premature closure of the coal mine could make Slovenia more import-dependent

Janez Rošer, General Manager of Slovenia’s Velenje Coal Mine, expressed his concerns regarding the conditions that must be met in order to obtain a satisfactory law on the closure of the mine.

“Far from eyes, far from the heart. Regions that are far from Ljubljana are often forgotten,” he said, during a conference organised by the National Council of Slovenia on the initiative of power utility Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE).

As State Councillor Franjo Naraločnik also warned, the premature closure of the coal mine could be problematic. 

“With the cessation of coal mining at the Velenje Coal Mine, Slovenia’s energy self-sufficiency will decrease from 80 per cent to around 60 per cent and it is naive to think that it is easy to replace production from TEŠ [thermal power plant Šoštanj] with alternative sources,” explained Viktor Vračar, Chief Executive Officer of HSE and TEŠ. “It is not only because these sources are insufficient but also pose a risk to the stability of the Slovenian electricity system. The challenge of how to ensure that Slovenia will not become even more import-dependent after the closure of the Velenje Coal Mine is, in addition to the environmental and social aspects, one that we must address immediately. Slovenia must not become dependent on imports and at the same time none of the employees in our thermal division must fear for their future”.

Lignite from Premogovnik Velenje is the basic fuel for the sixth block of TEŠ, as pointed out by a Member of the Management, Marko Štrigl. A concern shared also by the government. The Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Andrej Vizjak reminded that the transition cannot jeopardise the goal of a secure and reliable electricity supply.

“In the case of Block 6, it is necessary to start restructuring thoughtfully and fairly,” he said.

Also, Blaž Košorok, State Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure underlined that the shut-down of Block 6 would mean the loss of as much as a third of Slovenia’s electricity production.

Photo: HSE

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