The recently established Working Party on the Coordination of Preparatory Activities at the Project of the New Nuclear Power Plant in Krško (JEK2), comprising Slovenian government ministers and industry officials has held its inaugural meeting.

The 696 MWe Krško pressurised water reactor, Slovenia's only NPP, generates about one-third of its electricity. The plant, which began commercial operation in 1981, is co-owned by neighbouring Croatia. In 2015, a 20-year extension to its initial 40-year operational lifetime was approved. Krško is owned and operated by Nuklearna Elektrarna Krško, which is jointly owned by Croatia's Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP Group) and Slovenia's GEN Energija.

GEN group says as second unit, JEK 2, could provide 8 TWh electricity a year, reducing the need to import electricity, cutting CO2 emissions, providing district heating and creating jobs. The working group is seeking to prepare "all the necessary bases for citizens to make high-quality and informed decisions about supporting the JEK2 project", with a planned timeline of a final investment decision by 2028 "at the latest".

GEN Energija Director General Dejan Paravan and JEK2 Project Manager Bruno Glaser attended the inaugural working group meeting and outlined the steps being taken "to speed up the implementation of the project. Working Group leader State Secretary for the National Nuclear Programme Danijel Levičar noted that the government had recognised the strategic importance of JEK 2.

The goals of the working group are to establish an appropriate regulatory framework and speed up the project, as under current legislation, the facility could not begin operation until 2049, which shows the exceptional complexity of the project and the problems of continuing under existing legislation.

Slovenia's Prime Minister Robert Golob has stressed the importance of having public support for the JEK 2 project through a referendum. He said said on the sidelines of the meeting: "We want the referendum on this point to be very informed, which means that we want to have everything necessary to be ready so that people can decide on JEK 2 with quality and information.”

He added that the second task of the working group “is to determine how, on the basis of special legislation adapted to such a large project, we can speed up the construction of the facility with a view to, that this construction will not only be faster, but above all more cost-effective and the facility will also be more economical”. According to Golob, the working group is a "step towards” examining whether the new nuclear unit “can be part of the Slovenian power industry's solution for dealing with the climate crisis". The group will also "study how to use special legislation to reach a new nuclear facility as quickly and economically as possible".

Image: Aerial view of the Krško site (courtesy of Nuklearna Elektrarna Krško)