Slovenia outlines plans to exit coal by 2033

The Slovenian government has announced that it will phase out coal by 2033 at the latest but the plan lacks ambition when compared to the coal phase out dates of peer countries like Slovakia (2030), North Macedonia (2027) and Greece (2025) and falls short of the country’s responsibility on climate change. Nevertheless, it brings a Paris-aligned, pre-2030 coal phase out within reach, Europe Beyond Coal said on January 13.

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of Germany which is now targeting a fossil-free, completely renewables-based power system by 2035, this will easily be superseded by reality,” Europe Beyond Coal Campaigner Zala Primc said.

“With a pitiful two percent of Slovenia’s electricity currently produced from solar and wind, the government urgently needs to exploit the country’s immense renewable energy potential and avoid the pitfall of fossil gas if it is to steer away from the energy price and supply crises inherent to fossil fuels,” Primc argued.

Slovenia’s largest coal plant Sostanj 6 (600MW) was controversially brought online in 2015 – the year the world agreed to the UN Paris climate agreement – and was immediately at risk of becoming a stranded asset, Europe Beyond Coal claimed, adding that the plant has subsequently amassed €438 million in debts and registered €280 million in losses last year alone proving it to be a terrible investment.

Citing a leaked document belonging to state-owned operator Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE), Europe Beyond coal claimed that it is on the verge of bankruptcy and will only be able to pay salaries and other liabilities until this spring at best.

“From day one, it was abundantly clear that Sostanj 6 was not financially viable, and that Slovene taxpayers would be left footing the bill, and we have been proven right. The responsibility for this failure lies squarely with the politicians, energy experts, and investors who banged the drum for this coal project, and with the EIB and the EBRD who endorsed it,” Focus Association for Sustainable Development energy expert Tomislav Tkalec said, adding that Sostanj 6 is up to its neck in debt. He opined that 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.