Slovenia will hold a referendum on the construction of a new unit at the Krško NPP

Slovenia will hold a referendum this year on whether a new nuclear reactor will be built to replace the current Krško nuclear power plant, which is expected to end operations in 2043, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said after a National Energy Summit he organised.

The Prime Minister reported that it had been agreed that all five parliamentary parties would co-operate on the referendum on the Krszko 2 project. The leaders of the parliamentary parties participating in the summit, two parliamentarians representing the Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities, the country's president and the speaker of the House of Representatives agreed that renewable energy and nuclear power are the right path to a carbon-free society, Golob emphasised.

He announced that the government would soon adopt a draft resolution on the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Slovenia and submit it to parliament for adoption, which would serve as a basis for preparing the referendum question. The exact date of the referendum has not yet been determined. Golob clarified:

"At the moment we are leaning towards the second half of the year. We don't have a final date yet."

The Slovenian prime minister believes that holding a referendum this year makes sense in order to speed up procedures, in particular the choice of the construction site, to give the green light to preparations costing more than €100 million. A decision on the project will be made in 2027 or 2028, when the cost of the project and the nominal capacity of the new reactor will be known, Golob said, noting that a new referendum on the completed plan is likely to be held.

The Krshko single reactor pressurised water nuclear power plant, built by US-based Westinghouse, is located near the Slovenian-Croatian border, 80 kilometres from the Hungarian border. It started operating during the Yugoslav times in 1983. The power plant is owned 50/50 by the Slovenian GEN Energia and the Croatian Electricity Company. The power plant generates 6,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, covering about a quarter of Slovenia's electricity demand and about a fifth of Croatia's electricity demand. The Krško NPP reactor was originally scheduled to operate for 40 years, but last year the plant received environmental approval to extend its life for another 20 years, until 2043.

If the decision to build a new unit is made by 2028, the new reactor built could be connected to the grid in 2038. Croatia has already indicated that if Slovenia decides to build a new unit, Zagreb will stick to the original agreement and assume 50 per cent of the costs.