“For Slovenia to fully realise its nuclear potential, the country must extend the life of its existing nuclear fleet and bring new nuclear power plants online, including traditional and advanced nuclear reactors,” the Atlantic Council said.
“Slovenia’s heavy reliance on oil and natural gas imports underscores the importance of clean and safe domestic nuclear energy generation. Because the Krško nuclear power plant will soon require a lifetime extension, new investment in nuclear energy will be necessary to strengthen the country’s energy security and reduce carbon emissions”.
In 2016 Slovenia and Croatia agreed to extend the plant’s lifespan by 20 years to 2043.
The Atlantic Council said nuclear provides “a significant portion” of the country’s low-carbon energy, and Slovenia is ripe for future nuclear development, including advanced nuclear reactors.
It noted that earlier this month US secretary of state Mike Pompeo outlined opportunities for closer cooperation between the US and Slovenia as part of his weeklong trip to Central Europe. Nuclear energy was at the top of the agenda because Slovenia’s national, economic, and political security are all closely tied to the country’s energy security.
The Atlantic Council said Slovenia is in the midst of shaping its nuclear energy strategy, and US engagement in these efforts will be mutually beneficial, since Slovenia – as a member of Euratom, which has a Section 123 nuclear trade agreement with the US – has to adhere to US safety and nonproliferation standards as it continues to build its nuclear energy programme.
“Increased US-Slovenia cooperation on nuclear development will bolster transatlantic ties and ensure safe and transparent nuclear plant operations. US secretary of state Pompeo’s visit to Slovenia underscores the commitment of the US to pursuing such collaboration,” the Atlantic Council said.
About 37% of Slovenia’s energy supply comes from nuclear energy generated by the single-unit Krško nuclear power station, which is jointly owned by Slovenia and Croatia.
Last year Slovenia’s former prime minister Marjan Šarec said he backs plans to build a new nuclear reactor to help support the country’s economic growth, one week after the country’s infrastructure ministry said nuclear should play a key role in the country’s energy and climate policies.
The government has not yet made a final decision on whether to build a new reactor unit alongside Krško.
“We have to put all our efforts into building the second block of the nuclear power plant,” Mr Šarec told reporters during a visit to Krško, stressing increasing demand for electricity.