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Conference discussing challenges in electricity sector

Slovenia's electric grid is going through one of the most demanding periods in history, a conference of the Slovenian Committee of Electric Power Engineers heard in Bled on Tuesday.

The biggest challenges it faces are digitalisation, lack of staff, green transition and investments.

Addressing the opening of the two-day conference, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister dr. Igor Papič said that the state and the sector will have to invest a lot in new technologies.
The country will increasingly have to rely on renewable sources, above all photovoltaic and nuclear, said the minister.
"We are lagging behind considerably in renewables, the main problem being the development of energy storage. Parallel to developing the system, we must also completed digital transformation," said dr. Papič.
He pointed to the lack of staff felt by all industries at the moment. "The young do not opt for careers in tech, which needs to change, also by a higher degree of inclusion of women."

Mag. Marko Hrast, the president of the Committee of Electric Power Engineers and coordinator of Technical Support and Standards at ELES, said that global electricity systems are facing great change. "Globally, this is the biggest connected system of infrastructure humanity ever built."
The system must be maintained and upgraded in a way that is least detrimental to the environment, Hrast underlined. This can only be achieved if the system is connected to all other systems, he added.
Environmental disasters, economic crises and wars are making the green transition harder, he said, adding this has been very apparent recently, when the entire electricity system, considered robust and unbreakable was shaken by the war in Ukraine.

Mag. Aleksander Mervar, the CEO of ELES, presented last year's results and forecast for the future. Last year, Slovenia imported 30% of the electricity it used, mostly due to upgrades at the Krško nuclear power plant, shut-offs at the TEŠ thermal power plant and poor water conditions for hydro plants.
"Long-term import dependence forecast is inopportune for Slovenia, similar to other countries in the region," said mag. Mervar. To reduce dependence on import, Slovenia will have to invest more in the sector, he underlined.
Investments have gone down considerably in the past years, also because of unpaid grid fees, which cost the sector some EUR 100 million which would have otherwise gone into investments. Mag. Mervar also noted that Slovenian electricity companies posted much higher profits in 2022 than in 2021, saying that the cost of electricity is not as high as some claim.
He also talked about the green transition, saying that Slovenia's energy production is very low-carbon in comparison to other countries. The country is under the EU average in terms of emissions in electricity production, and 30% better than Germany, he said.


Summarized from: Slovenska tiskovna agencija (STA)

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