Infrastructure Ministry: Slovenia Will Continue to Use Nuclear Power

By , 14 Aug 2020, 12:51 PM Business
Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Blaž Košorok Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Blaž Košorok

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STA, 14 August 2020 - Speaking about a potential second nuclear reactor in Krško, Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Blaž Košorok has told the STA that Slovenia is and will remain a nuclear country. Košorok, who is convinced Slovenia will need the reactor, called for a fact-based debate as opposed to politicking and appeals to emotions.

While the government recently placed a new nuclear reactor in Krško on the list of strategic projects for post-coronacrisis recovery, Košorok said this did not mean a final decision on the project had been made.

"We are talking about some kind of guidelines, but fact is that Slovenia is and will remain a nuclear country. We've been living with this for more than 40 years and will probably continue living with it," said Košorok.

The official, who described nuclear energy as a safe, reliable and long-term source of power, stressed that the 20-year extension of the life-span of what is currently Slovenia's sole nuclear reactor needs to be secured again first after a recent Administrative Court decision that entails a reinstalling of the original 40-year span ending in 2023.

Košorok is confident that the Environment Agency, which needs to okay the extension through an environmental impact assessment, has enough awareness about the importance of nuclear energy for Slovenia.

He stressed that securing the needed facilities for the storage of nuclear waste was a pre-condition for any decision. The investor, state-owned power utility Gen Energija, which manages Slovenia's half of the Krško nuclear power station, will have to be convicting with a serious investment plan and zoning procedures need to start.

Košorok added the investor will have to convince the asset manager, meaning the Slovenia Sovereign Holding, and key stakeholders, with the plan being that a decision on a second reactor be adopted until 2027 approximately.

Broad social consensus will be needed for a new reactor, especially in light of social and economic development, he added. He said some opposition is expected and normal while urging against politicking and for expertise-based debates.

He spoke of a fairly safe situation, pointing to the recent strong earthquake in nearby Zagreb that had no noteworthy effect on the Krško nuclear power plant whatsoever.

Košorok said it was too soon to speak about any technical details. There are a few interested parties, among them Westinghouse, which also built the existing reactor. Concrete decisions will be taken by experts, he added.

Interest in participation in the project was recently also expressed by Croatia, which co-owns the Krško nuclear power plant and has been cooperating with Slovenia in its management.

"There are ups and downs with any contract, a marriage is also a contract-based relationship that has good and bad moments. And I feel the good moments prevailed here," the official commented, welcoming Croatia's initiative while adding this was just one possible scenario.

The project has also drawn attention in other neighbouring countries, including Austria as a country traditionally opposed to nuclear energy. Talks were conducted as the life-span of the current reactor was being extended and Košorok said there had been "no dramatic opposition".

Meanwhile, the official also reflected on other potential energy projects in the country, highlighting the untapped potential in the Central Sava Valley, which he said could accommodate 10 hydro power plants. He said zoning and spatial planing should start immediately.

He moreover lamented the slow progress it the use of wind energy, saying Slovenia was unfortunately at the very tail end in this respect in the EU.

Košorok has a long track record in the energy industry. He headed the state-owned power utility HSE between 2012 and 2016, having before that spent seven years at the helm of the Ljubljana co-generation plant TE-TOL.

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