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Coal plants are a thorny issue since they also provide considerable employment

Slovenia to phase out coal by 2033

Slovenia to phase out coal by 2033

The deadline, however, is seen as disappointing by European civil activists

Slovenian government announced yesterday, 13 January, that it plans to phase out the use of coal in the country by the year 2033. This, however, was met with criticism and disapproval by the non-profit organization Europe Beyond Coal, whose activities are entirely focused on campaigning European countries to disengage from fossil fuels.

The civil activists argue that the official plan lacks ambitions, especially when compared to the phasing-out plans of similar-sized countries in Eastern Europe, such as Greece (2025), Slovakia (2030) and North Macedonia (2027).

Slow progress on fossil fuel disengagement

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of Germany which is now targeting a fossil-free, completely renewables-based power system by 2035, this will easily be superseded by reality,” said Zala Primc, who is a Campaigner at Europe Beyond Coal.

She went on to explain that currently only 2% of the country’s energy needs are met through renewable sources, which makes Slovenia hostage to the volatility of the fossil fuel markets, such as the price hikes experienced this winter.

Slovenia’s largest coal plant Šoštanj’s Unit 6 (600MW) was controversially put into operation in 2015 – the same 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 euros in debts and registered 280 million euros in losses last year alone, proving it to be a bad investment. Document leaks have also shown that it is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Dr. Tomislav Tkalec, Energy expert at Focus Association for Sustainable Development commented that “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.”

The Šoštanj Power Plant is located near the country’s only active lignite mine, near Velenje, in the north-central region of Slovenia.

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