The CEOs of Slovenia’s leading energy companies ELES, HSE and GEN Energija agreed that the measures taken by the government and energy firms in order to deal with the energy crisis have worked, but these difficult conditions are not over. According to them, in the long term, Slovenia urgently needs investments in new low-carbon production units and renewable energy sources, as the more than 30 per cent average import dependence that marked the year 2022 is completely unacceptable.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gas supply disruptions and high energy prices, all EU countries, including Slovenia, have adopted measures to protect consumers and mechanisms to ensure the liquidity of energy companies.
Aleksander Mervar, the CEO of ELES, Tomaž Štokelj, the CEO of HSE and Dejan Paravan, the CEO of GEN Energija, recalled that Slovenian energy companies always ensured a reliable supply of electricity despite the outage of their own hydro production due to record drought and despite the demanding overhaul of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) and the saving of coal in the Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (TEŠ).
“When NEK and TEŠ 6 were not in operation in October, there were no problems with the supply of electricity in the short term, even though Slovenia was more than 56 per cent dependent on its import at that time. This means that the Slovenian electricity system is robust,” read a press statement. “However, since we are dependent on neighbouring countries with such large imports, we cannot rely on the fact that the supply will be uninterrupted also in future similar situations.”
At the level of electricity generation, the implementation of these measures enabled the stable and reliable operation of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, which received permission to extend operation until 2043. On the other hand, electricity consumption was mainly reduced by business customers – by a total of 10.9 per cent. Compared to the pre-coronavirus year of 2019, the total consumption was 6.6 per cent lower.
Regarding electricity prices for household customers, Slovenia registered the second lowest compared to neighbouring countries, right after Hungary. The same applies to business customers, where final prices were lower only in Croatia.
The three CEOs also recognised that the liquidity of key energy companies in the country is stable and credits are returning.
However, as underlined by Mr Paravan, the energy crisis is not over yet.
“Electricity prices are currently lower than the regulated prices in practically all consumer segments, which is primarily a reflection of the drop in prices on the wholesale market from the beginning of the year to today. But the situation in the energy market remains tight,” he said. “There is still a shortage of about 20 per cent of gas supply in Europe, so there is still a possible gas shortage in 2024 and 2025, which will keep pressure on energy prices. We, therefore, urge business customers to take advantage of the current situation in order to carry out a partial purchase of energy several years in advance. The recommendation is at least 25 per cent for the next three years, 2024, 2025 and 2026.”
ELES’ Mr Mervar also emphasised that the energy industry is preparing for the coming winter after a very warm season.
“The situation could be completely different if we had low average temperatures, as wholesale prices would be higher,” he said. According to Mervar’s assessment, Slovenia is extremely exposed in the field of reliable electricity supply in case of crisis situations, the relatively favourable development of events in recent months does not allow for complacency. Without new investments, this exposure will only increase, not only in the area of supply but also in the area of prices.
Indeed, the energy crisis exposed Slovenia’s high dependence on imported electricity, which reached an average of 32.6 per cent in 2022, with 98.3 per cent of all hours of the year being imported electricity.
In the coming years, the three CEOs are urging Slovenia to focus all its efforts on establishing a self-sufficient and low-carbon electricity system, which means investments in new production units.
“Without the necessary investments, we are in danger of being between 40 and 50 per cent dependent on imports by 2030 on average,” pointed out Mr Mervar.