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The new nuclear power plant unit will ensure Slovenia’s long-term energy self-sufficiency, while it also is needed for the efficient transformation of the electricity sector and the transition to a low-carbon society. Electricity is the energy of the future, as electricity consumption will rise sharply due to electrification (digitalisation, e-mobility and new technologies) and the associated abandonment of fossil-based sources. Projections indicate that annual electricity consumption will more than double in Slovenia by 2050 relative to current consumption. In addition to growth in electricity consumption, Slovenia faces the problem of relatively old energy production facilities that will have to be replaced in the future. The Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant, which currently accounts for around one-third of domestic production, is scheduled to be shut down after 2033, while the extended life cycle of the NEK will expire after 2043.

In Slovenia, 70% of electricity needs were covered by domestic sources in 2022. The expected further growth in Slovenia’s dependence on energy imports is strategically unacceptable. If we want to be self-sufficient in terms of electricity, we need new, reliable and environmentally friendly sources of the aforementioned energy source. Otherwise, we will import more than 60% of electricity from abroad.

Read more: JEK2 project

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Nuclear energy has numerous advantages that have led many countries around the world to build new nuclear power plants.

Environmental advantages: Because of its minimal spatial footprint, JEK2 preserves natural areas, habitats and biodiversity, while a nuclear power plant represents a low-carbon energy source.

Stability of the electric power grid: Nuclear power plants collectively represent one of the most stable sources of electricity. On account of their size, they represent a pillar of reliable supply as they produce electricity at full power more than 90% of the time. By operating on a base-load principle, such power plants provide urgently needed base load electricity for the electric power grid, while the stability of a large generator ensures the requisite quality of electricity needed by the commercial sector and all advanced technologies.

Economic advantages: JEK2 will provide reliable and affordable electricity to facilitate the continued development of the Slovenian economy and society. In addition, the JEK2 project would ensure 10,000 new on-site jobs during construction, and more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs during operation.

Read more: Advantages and importance of JEK2

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The planned site of JEK2 is in the direct vicinity of today’s NEK. After 40 years of successful operation, the latter is the basis of the trust of the local and wider communities, and is a building block of socially acceptable nuclear energy. That location is a prime energy site that is well-connected to the electric power grid via three high-voltage transmission lines, and meets the legal guidelines regarding the construction of new energy facilities.

It complies with all criteria required for the reliable and safe functioning of a nuclear power plant. Based on previous analyses, the site facilitates the space required for buildings, the layout of buildings, the possibility of cooling using cooling towers and the possibility of connection to the current switching station at the NEK.

Read more: Location of JEK2

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A nuclear power plant with a pressurised water reactor (PWR), similar to the existing NEK, is planned. The reason for the use of pressurised water technology is the knowledge and experience that the NEK and scientific institutions have accumulated over the last 40 years, both in terms of operation and administrative control.

A third-generation reactor that meets the strictest safety requirements is planned. Statistics from around the world indicate that this is the most widely used type of reactor, with the best overall safety record. It is also the most accessible reactor on the market in terms of commercial deliverability. It involves proven technologies with reference implementations.

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Activities are in progress to prepare for project-related decisions, while we are coordinating key milestones with the competent ministries until the final investment decision. GEN energija’s primary focus is the preparation of a request for a National Spatial Plan (NSP), with the aim of siting a higher-capacity power plant with a rated power of up to 2,400 MW. Crucial in that regard is information obtained based on technical dialogue with potential suppliers.

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The geopolitical situation has changed considerably, and resulted in the narrowing of the list of potential suppliers prior to the start of the war in Ukraine and energy crisis. GEN energija has held technical dialogue with three potential suppliers (EDF from France, KHNP from South Korea and Westinghouse from the US), and thus obtained information regarding technical details, economic assumptions and the business model, as well as other important input data required for the preparation of analysis and bases for further decisions regarding the investment.

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The electricity generation license issued in 2021 was for a nuclear power plant with a rated power of 1,100 MW. Many circumstances have changed significantly in the wake of the energy crisis: the need for the reliable supply of domestically produced electricity has grown, as has interest in a co-investment approach, while the list of potential technology suppliers has also changed. For this reason, GEN energija is seriously considering the possibility of building a more powerful reactor.

Consideration of a more powerful reactor also makes sense given the sharp increase in the need for electricity in the wider region. The selection of reactor power will depend on several factors and perspectives, including the study of financing models.

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A nuclear power plant has an extremely long life cycle and will generate enormous quantities of electricity over at least 60 years of operation. It is a long-term and intergenerational project that will contribute to the quality of electricity supply in Slovenia for decades to come.

Given the level of investment required for the construction of JEK2, in this stage of the project we are studying different financing models and international practices in the area of financing models, which include private equity and varying shares of corporate equity contributions, debt capital and other sources. The results of this analysis will facilitate discussions about the specific financial construction of the JEK2 project.

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21. 8. 2023: Odgovori na vprašanja ZEG s posveta o prihodnosti jedrske energije v Sloveniji 16. 6. 2023