Friday, July 27, 2012

The biggest energy suppliers propose to invest in renewable energy sources

Week in Slovakia (July 23 - July 29, 2012)


Thursday - 26th July 2012


Martin Moježíš talked with his guests over the future of electric vehicles during the summer festival Bažant Pohoda. Invited experts discussed the advantages and disadvantages of electric cars, about charging technology or even whether these new technologies provide a crucial piece of the puzzle and set the grid stability. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Companies ZSE (Západoslovenská energetika), SSE (Stredoslovenská energetika) and VSE (Východoslovenská energetika) should invest in the medium and long term in renewable energies sources million euros. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Friday - 27th July 2012


A special prosecutor filed an indictment in a case Transpetrol. Entrepreneur Ignác I., whose name is associated with an attempt to get 34-percent part in Transpetrol (TP), will go back to court. The prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor's Office has filed the indictment, under which Ignác I. along with his accomplice pretended that they may act for TP and recognized claims against the state oil carrier. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Regulatory Office for Network Industries disagreed with the procedure of regional distribution system operators - Stredoslovenská energetika – Distribúcia, a. s. (SSE-D) and Východoslovenská distribučná, a.s (VSD) on the transfer of electricity customers, which supplier was  PB Power Trade, a. s., to the electricity supplier of last instance. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Price regulation and open markets cannot coexist in long term


„Open markets with well-functioning competition cannot in the long-term coexist with regulated end-user energy prices,“ the European Commission (EC) assessed in 2010 in its staff working paper

Based on position of European regulator´s group ERGEG, as predecessor of current ACER agency, the EC agrees that price regulation can act as a barrier for access of higher number of suppliers, i.e. bigger competition, and therefore should be “transitional”.

Slovak Regulatory Office for Network Industries (URSO) and a member of ERGEG/ACER in its 2011 annual report claims that the electricity and gas market in Slovakia was „truly functional“. Yet there is no sign of temporary character of price regulation in the draft of Act on regulation in network industries.

URSO annual report even says that 2012 represents „a new milestone in the market liberalization process“ due to deregulation of energy prices for small-sized companies.

Nevertheless, the draft of new Act includes a proposal for re-introduction of the end-price regulation for SME´s.

The regulator advocates necessity of end-user price regulation as a tool of consumer protection against excessive prices otherwise demanded by suppliers. Also the European Commission agrees that “protecting vulnerable customers will remain necessary in competitive markets, but not necessarily in the form of regulated prices“. According to the EC tools „must work in line with and support the pre-requisites of open, competitive markets“.

Traditional as well as alternative suppliers believe there is no need for further price regulation in Slovakia. If it remains it should only apply to well defined group of customers, not for the whole segments of market.

„In many countries, the co-existence of regulated and market prices is clearly not a transitory measure,“ ERGEG said already in 2007. Together with the EC they recommended EU member states which still had regulated prices to publish a roadmap containing specified steps how to remove the need for continued end-user price regulation.

Court of Justice of the EU confirmed in 2010 that state determination of the price level is allowed for a period that is necessarily limited in time (Case C-265/08).

However, the proposed draft of Act assumes that price caps determined by URSO will be valid for couple of years and not even for one year as today.

There are some indicators how to measure the liberalization and maturity of competition in open market, for example so-called switching rate. It shows the number of extraction points with the changed suppliers to the total number of extraction points in a given year.

Here you may find figures for switching of gas and electricity supplier in recent years (Source: URSO 2011 annual report)


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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Douglas Dean Osheroff: We have to stop burning fossil fuels

The Nobel Prize laureate, an American physicist Douglas Dean Osheroff recently visited Slovakia – a country of his grand parents. During a very tigh schedule he found a little bit of time and shared with us his views about the future of energy, how his life changed after co-discovery of superfluidity in Helium-3 and his memories of Richard Feynman. 


Mr. Osheroff, the origins of your mother are apparently connected with Slovakia. Were you interested in your roots?

My grandfather on mother's side was a Lutheran minister. I really don't know much about when they came to the United States but my mother was one of 5 children. It's sort of interesting, four girls and boy. And she had a family of four boys and a girl. I'd never actually knew much about origins of family and when they came to USA. So I'm afraid I'm rather ignorant. Except when I was invited to Slovakia, to the country of my mother's roots.

So this is your second visit of Slovakia. Did you have a feeling to trace your possible family here?

I don't know anyone here that was at all connected to my grand parents. I know a few control phrases from my mother when I was young like „Daj to preč!“ ("Put it away") , „Zavri dvere!“ (Shut the door) or „Poďme spať!“ ("Let´s go to bed").

One time I was working with junior graduate student at the Cornell University. This was just after discovery of superfluidity in liquid helium-3. This guy was Willy and we were eorking until late hours. It could be probably about 2:33 AM. I turned to him and I said: „Willy, poďme spať!“. He looked at me and said, did you know what that means? I said, it means it's time for bed. He said no, it means let's go to bed. So for mother let's go to bed means a very different thing than for me to say to a colleague.

Another word I know is „poriadok“ (order). She would say "poďme robiť poriadok" (let's make some order).

In retrospect, how did you become so fascinated by science?

I think it was really my father. I was five years old and I got an electric train for Christmas. My father was a medical doctor so he was usually up late. So my parents would take a nap in the afternoon. When they got up from their nap I've take my locomotive apart to get electric motor out. And I think this was a kind of watershed event. I think my father actually wanted to go to become a scientist but it was during the Great Depression. His father probably said, well if you go into chemistry, you would get the Master's degree and you want to get a PhD. So if you go into chemistry, you may never get a job. Whereas when you go to medicine you always have a job. So he went into medical school.

And then, well it just kept building things. He had a patient that worked for the telephone company and they were permanently changing their offices. I got lots of boxes with junk from the telephone company. At one point my father gave me the ignition coil from a car (it is the thing that generates spark and sparkplug that causes the mixture of fuel and oxygene to explode). Back in those days, car batteries were 6 V not 12 V so you put in 6 V and you get out 2000 V. So I said wow, what happens if I put 600 Volts. I have all these capacitors from the telephone company. I kind of wired these things all in parallel. I had a brother who was ham radio operator and I borrowed one of his transformers and I bought two rectifiers. So I charged these capacitors up to 600 Volts and then discharged that across the primary for the spark well for the car. These things were absolutely lethal I think. Luckily I didn't kill myself.

In 1996 you shared Nobel Prize in Physics for co-discovery of superfluidity in Helium-3 along with David Lee and Robert Richardson. Looking back, was the Nobel Prize for you personally a blessing or curse?

I think - both. So what happens is I was really happy to do the research and suddenly you get the Nobel prize and it opens a lot of doors. Lot of these things were really fascinating or things I felt I would like to do. So you have much less time and you're not thinking about your research. You're thinking about all of these global issues like global warming and stuff like that. So it really changed my focus a lot. So this was in 1996 and I was already at Stanford University. My research productivity started dropping off. That time I knew what happens but I was so fascinated with all of the issues and all of the opportunities that I got to work as Nobel laureate. I don't think that I made a conscious decision to basically to wind up my research but that's what happened.

As far as I remember, Richar Feynman said something very similar as you. Incidentally you used to attend his lectures at The California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Do you have fond memories of him?

I'm an experimenter and Richard Feynman was a theorist. I think he was probably the first modern day scientist to get Nobel Prize. Or maybe not but he was very outspoken. I'm little bit outspoken too. Feymann developed these Feymann lectures on physics and every undergraduate student at Caltech (The California Institute of Technology) had to take 2 years of Feynman physics. Feynman gave a few of the lectures and by time I was a student mostly the lectures were being given by people that actually created the book Feynman lectures in physics. Certainly Feynman set the tone of how we were studying physics.

I would tell you that my freshman class at Caltech there were 192 students but only 120 returned for their sophomore year. So almost the third dropped out. I think that was largely to the Richard Feynman. Not that he wasn't a good teacher but he was asking too much of lot of the students. 

I was being offered a faculty position at Caltech and I was very loath to accept because Caltech was very challenging for me. I mean I did pretty well I think but first time had a real work in my life was at Caltech. I was visiting one day and these guys were trying to get me agree to join a faculty. I should pay my respects to Feynman. Everyone knew he had a stomach cancer that time and he'd already been on Challenger investigation board and everything like that. So I would go to his secretary. Her main job in life was to keep people like me away from her boss. I was arguing with her and then Feynman comes out and I said who I am and hey says: „I know who you are! For God's sake we're trying to emply here!“.

Then we went in to his office and started talking about all sort of different things and lots of physics in it. And then I invited him to visit Bell laboratories. First he said: „I can't do that“ because his daughter wanted to go to Cornell University. I said if you are going to Cornell which is in Ithaca, you have to pass trrough New York airport. It's only 20 minutes drive from Bell Laboratories. I persuad him of one day visit. I agreed to take care of his daughter who was mostly interested in horses.

It was fascinating. I mean Feynman is certainly his own person and no one controled him. So he came to Bell Laboratories and we had this auditorium and he was supposed to give a talk there. I didn't know what talk is gonna be there but it was about reversible computers. Any process that is reversible has to happen slowly. Otherwise it won't be reversible. It's like if you drop something on the ground, that's irreversible process. Anyway I was listening to this talk and said why we just don't talk about physics. Auditorium was totally full. If the fire marshalls have come in, they would have kicked us all out because of too many people. All of the isles were blocked with people everywhere. So he talks for about 45 minutes and he opens it up for questions. Questions were on for another 45 minutes. At this point Feynman was literally dying of stomach cancer. I remember one question though. Some guy raises his hand and says: „Is there any physics in this reversible computer business?“. Feymann stood on his tiptoes, looked over the lecturer at this guy and said:  „What do you mean physics? Physics is the study of nature. This is engineering. It's all engineering!“. I don't think it's quite correct. It was a very applied problem.

Going back to your own research. Why did you set your main focus in low temperatures substances?

I went to Cornell University for graduate study after being graduated at Caltech. First semester there were two courses. One was physics colloquium and one was a solid state seminar on new refrigeration devices Helium-3, Helium-4, dilution refrigerator which will give you continuous cooling down to extremely low temperatures. That's pretty cold. Other process has been suggested by Russian theorist Isaak Pomeranchuk, a member of the Landau school. So very broad interest. He predicted that if you compress liquid Helium-3 at these very low temperatures until you started forming solid. As you form the solid, the liquid would cool again. You could essentially reach absolute zero, but it really does not happend in fact.

This would give me the opportunity of looking at nature in a new and different way. The first year of graduate study I built Helium-3 and Helium-4 dilusion refrigerator. Some other people were involved in that too. Then the second and third year I built this Pomeranchuk cell. I think it was the best Pomeranchuk cell that has ever been built. Then I incorporated and it worked well so I can actually use nuclear magnetic resonance. Anyway, that's how it all happened.

Most people do not know much about superfluidity of Helium 3. Is it possible to explain your discovery and your lifelong work in a few sentences?

I'll try. Helium-4 is superfluid but Helium-4 atoms are Bose particles. And Bose particles are the friendly particles of nature. They all like to be in the same quantum state. Imagine Helium-4 atoms scattering off the wall. So what's status are they scattering to? There are so many atoms in this condense state already. The probability of scattering in any state is proportial to number of atoms in that momentum state. The probability is enormously high that it will scatter back. So you end up having this macroscopically occupied state. Helium-4 has zero friction. That makes it superfluent. So that's kind of introduction what superfluid is.

Helium-3 is very different though. Helium-3 atoms are firm particles or so called anti-social particles of nature. They only two can occupy the same momentum state. One with the spin up and one with spin down because there're are only two states available. There're firm particles and no two can be in the same quantum state. Why would that state then behave like a superfluid? The answer to that has to do with then superconductivity in the BCS theory (proposed by Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer).

John Bardeen was one of very few people that has won two Nobel prizes in the same field. He is very quiet guy but with very powerful ideas. I got my degree in spring of 1972 and that summer was an International temperature conference in Boulder, Colorado. These conferences always have big banquets. I ended up sitting right across the table from John Bardeen. John is very quiet but when he was young he stuttered. I had just discovered the new BCS state during the banquet. I was really interested in his opinion and eventually I screwed up my courage and I asked him what he thought about this Helium-3 business.  In order not to stutter he simply spoke very slowly and said: „Very interesting.“

You probably don't want to put this in your article...We were eating this elegant dinner on paper plates. The blast thing was that there was exactly one toilet for men and one for women. There were probably one thousand people in this huge hall. After dinner, women were lined up, probably hundred, to use this one toilet. No one was using men's toilet. We were just going over the hills and I would like to say that I shared the tree with John Bardeen.

You recently visited Slovak nuclear power plant in Mochovce. What were your impressions?

It was fascinating. Of course, for me it was just another toy to look at and it wasn't my toy. I knew a lot about nuclear power plants but I've never seen one before.

What do you think about nuclear energy?

There have been three serious accidents in the history of nuclear energy. Chernobyl was of course the worst. I don't think that accident is likely to happen ever again. There was a lot of incompetence I think in that accident. The Fukushima accident, the most recent one, it was mistake in the strategy that the pumps that cooled the reactor they were low enough. So this huge tsunami flooded the pumps and there was nothing that circulated the water. They had sort of meltdown so the moderator rods couldn't be moved.

That was a really serious accident. I thinks it's the one that will never be made again. It's something that's relatively easy to correct. We've been generating power using nuclear reactors for about 20 years. Do you know how many nuclear reactors are currently in operation?

I'm not exactly sure but it must be over 400 in operation...

So if you multiply 20 years by number of nuclear recators in operation, that's 8.000 years with the experience using nuclear reactors. I think there're relatively safe but when something happens like Fukushima as an example, the consequences are enormous. I think the consequences aren't just release of radiaton. You have to take into consideration the political aspect. If we have another Fukushima, the probability that anyone worldwide would be able to build another nuclear reactor goes way down. So I hope that the people who are designing these things are driven by that fear rather than by cost.

Do you think it's possible to build 100 % safe nuclear reactor these days?

Asteroid comes in and gets nuclear reactor. You cannot guard against that and there are other things. The question is Can nuclear reactors be made safer? I think the answer is probably "yes". It's very complicated because that increases the cost. Then you can ask, if you increase the cost of nuclear reactors to the point when no more are made, then in fact we will supoort the energy production by burning coal. That has all sorts of political and also ecological ramifications.

So you're damned if you use nucleus and you're damned if you don't. You can't reach completely safety. Human activity will almost invariably have an impact on the planet.

The attitude of people in Europe towards nuclear energy is very different. General view is that people in Western Europe are against and citizens in Central and Eastern Europe are more familiar with the use of this technology. What is the situation in USA like?

We're building so few nuclear plants now. I would probably have to call Steve Chu to ask him becuase I'm sure he knows. It's sort of interesting, Steven Chu and I were at Bell Laboratories together and very independently we both decided to go to Stanford University. He called me up and said: „'Osheroff I'm going to Stanford University and you have to come with me“. So we were both in the Physics department.

It's been very difficult in United States to build nuclear reactors. Every time when there's an accident it makes it harder and it's not just in the USA but everywhere. No one wants to have one of those things fail in their backyard or in their country.

Worldwide consumption of electricity will most certainly increase in the upcoming decades. According to you, what forms of energy will dominate in the future?

Certainly one that people are looking and I've actually seen some activities is solar energy. Using silicon solar cells. You get these solar farms as they are called but there are other ways of doing it. I guess silicon solar cells are technology that's well understood right now. Of course you can focus the sunlight on something different. It's a thermal process. The best solar cell are about 20 % efficient I think. You have to look how efficient the thermal devices are. So these numbers are pretty well known. I think that people that build it are looking at lots of issues besides what fraction of the sunlight we can convert to electricity. That's not exactly the problem of the question that they're asking.

I think we have to stop burning fossil fuels. Certainly petrol I think we're gonna run out. Coal, before we run out it will sufficiently poison the atmosphere. It would be a blessing if we would stop.

I don't know what the future of energy is. My personal feeling is that the more nuclear reactors we have, the more chance that the design will be safe and right. But the more nuclear reactors we have, the chances that the mistake is made and you have released the large amounts of radiation goes higher too. I think that the next generation of nuclear reactors will probably be more expensive and hopefully safer.

Notice: The interview was prepared in cooperation with energia.sk's Mr. Michal Jesenič.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

They used cooking oil instead of diesel in Čiernohorská railway

Week in Slovakia (July 16 - July 22, 2012)


Monday - 16th July 2012

 

The management of company Trnavská teplárenská sold the emissions below cost. Police have launched a prosecution. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

In Čiernohronská railway, which operates during the summer season nerar Čierny Balog, they bave been using cooking oil instead of diesel for four years. "It's so similar to so-called primitive, eco-diesel as produced from colza oil," said the director of the railway Aleš Bílek. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Tuesday - 17th July 2012

 

Two former governments of Slovak republic tried to transpose EU’s 3rd Energy Package into the national legislation. However, Slovakia still lags behind, said Slovak Gas Enterprise’s Mr Henrich Krejčí in an interview for EurActiv.sk. (more information)

Thursday - 19th July 2012


On Monday 16 July Vladimír Šucha commenced his term as Deputy Director-General of the JRC. He will coordinate the JRC’s scientific activities.( more information)

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vladimír Šucha is a new Deputy Director-General of the JRC

On Monday 16 July Vladimír Šucha commenced his term as Deputy Director-General of the JRC. He will coordinate the JRC’s scientific activities.

Vladimír Šucha has a long-term academic and research background and a full professorship from the Comenius University in Bratislava. He worked as a Director for Culture and Media at the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. Between 2000 and 2004 he was a participant of the JRC’s Board of Governors and in 2004, when the Slovak Republic joined the EU he became a member until 2006. He was the Director of the Slovak Research and Development Agency in 2005 and 2006. The Agency is the Slovak national body for funding research, promoting international cooperation and providing scientific advice. He has also worked as the Principal advisor for European Affairs for the Minister of Education of the Slovak Republic (2004-2005) and covered the research, education and culture portfolio for the Slovak Representation to the EU between 2000 and 2004.

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) is a department of the European Commission providing independent scientific and technological support for EU policy-making. It works closely on the development of EU legislation with the relevant Commission services, such as the Agricultural, Enterprise, Environment, and Health and Consumer Protection. Knowledge comes from specific application- and issue-oriented research within the seven JRC Institutes and close co-operation with over 1000 public and private organisations in Member State and applicant countries. In the area of power engineering it focused on nuclear safety and security, environment, climate change and emissions and energy efficiency.

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Mountain hut Chata pri Zelenom plese has its own hydroelectric power plant

Mountain huts in the Hight Tatras usually use the diesel generator as a source of energy. The hut Chata pri Zelenom plese provides electric power from the renewed small hydroelectric power plant.

The hut in altitude 1.551 m used only noisy diesel generator last year. The stuff used it mostly during the freezing level of the mountain lake and for the strongest short-term supply of appliances. All electrical appliances like a kettle, microwave, refrigerator, lighting, heating and mobile transmitter are connected to the electric power. According to deputy of cottager Lenka Lipičanová the diesel generator required lots of costs and "because of noise it cannot still be involved all the time," she said.

Currently the hut can use clean electricity from small hydro power plant. Hydrological conditions in alpine environments allow producing 9.5 MWh of electricity during the year.

Hydroelectric power plant with installed capacity 1kW provides recharging of batteries for the most urgent electricity consumption during the day. The first phase of the work was completed in December 2011. The building operations will continue with the installation of a second source with capacity 10 kW. It will allow using shock flows and regulating of electricity to the requirements of the hut. They would like to exchange the older diesel generator for the green type with higher performance and lower emissions.

The mountain hut Chata pri Zelenom plese, also called Brnčalka is the third hut, which uses green energy. Téryho chata and Zbojnícka chata uses electricity from renewable energy, too. They exchange the diesel generator for photovoltaic panels.


Notice: The complete photogallery you will find here.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Slovak Gas Enterprise: 3rd Energy Package brings the biggest change ever

Two former governments of Slovak republic tried to transpose EU’s 3rd Energy Package into the national legislation. However, Slovakia still lags behind, said Slovak Gas Enterprise’s Mr Henrich Krejčí in an interview for EurActiv.sk.

“Implementation of so called 3rd energy package means probably the biggest change in our national energy legislation, since Slovakia had become the member of EU,” said Henrich Krejčí, who acts as a lead of energy law and regulation department at Slovak Gas Enterprise (SPP). SPP company, which is the leader on natural gas market in Slovakia, had been preparing for new rules since 2010. Currently, the vertically integrated company needs only to move assets of natural gas transportation network under the “eustream, a.s.” company. Eustream company is the member of SPP family and act as an operator of gas transportation system.

According to Mr Krejčí, there was a little of time for companies to comment both law proposals and formulate the feedback. Especially the proposal of regulation act was introduced as a new text, in comparison to previous proposal introduced by former government in the end of 2011. “We don’t think it was a fortunate choice, because, from our point of view, the proposed legislation includes some unclear wordings like fuel poverty definition, broad definition of vulnerable consumers or the institute of out of the ordinary regulation,” said the expert.

The main difference between the former and current proposal of regulation act is the default model of the unbundling, when it comes to the future operation of gas transportation system. At the end of 2011, the proposal suggested ITO model (independent transmission operator), in contrary current proposal refers to ownership unbundling (OU) as a preferable model. Mr Krejčí thought that the ownership unbundling would undermine the position of Slovakia on European “gas map”.

The other issue is the lack of “complex view on regulation, if it comes to opening of the energy market to the new players in a long-term”. In this regard, the future energy law does not have an ambition to outline the timetable for price deregulation. In contrary with the trend supported by the EU institutions, proposed energy law sets the restoration of price regulation for electricity and gas supplies for small and medium enterprises.

“Current market share of SPP represents approximately 70 %, consumers use to switch between energy suppliers, they are free to decide between various products. Therefore it is difficult to understand, why the proposer decided to restore the price regulation in segment, in which the market competition works in the standard manner,” concluded Mr Krejčí in an interview for Slovak EurActiv.

Notice: The complete interview in Slovak language you will find here.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New energy acts in parliament committees


Slovakia has still not transposed two EU directives in its national law even though they are essential for liberalization of the energy sector.

The concerned directives of the EU Third Energy Package are Directive on common rules for the internal market in gas (2009/73/EC) and Directive on common rules for the internal market in electricity (2009/72/EC).

The deadline for their transposition expired on March 3rd, 2011. In February 2012 the European Commission sent Reasoned Opinions to urge Slovakia to comply with this legal obligation.

Long approval process
In February the drafts of new energy laws - Act on Energy and Act on Regulation in Network industries - submitted for approval by the former minister of economy did not gain support of the Slovak parliament.

At the end of May modified bills were approved by new government and one month later they passed through the first reading in the parliament.

On Thursday and Friday (19-20 July) they are scheduled for discussion in parliament committees. 

Some observers anticipate a lot of amendments in the following second and third reading. However, others claim that thanks to comfortable majority of the ruling party, the approval of the bills should not be a problem. 

Competition in 2011
According to Regulatory Office for Network Industries (ÚRSO) in 2011 the gas and electricity market “was truly functional what justified further dynamic development.”

Towards the end of 2011 there were in total 385 electricity suppliers in Slovakia. 41 of them supplied electricity to households, the others focused on corporate customers. 

Along with the traditional supplier SPP there were more than 15 gas traders in the Slovak gas market.
However, 6 electricity suppliers maintain rather substantial share, about 73 % in the electricity market. SPP maintained 77 % share in the market of gas supplies to final consumers. 

In 2011 more than 40,000 households and more than 2,200 non-household consumers switched their electricity supplier. Also more than 21,000 households switched their gas supplier. 2011 was the first year they were allowed to do so. 

The new legislation should substantially shorten the administrative period of switch from current up to few months to maximum of three weeks. The directives also put exceptionl emphasis on no charge for changing supplier policy. This provision in current law has been often circumvented by indirect charges for ´consulting services´.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Some mountain huts in the High Tatras use energy from renewable sources

Week in Slovakia (July 9 - July 15, 2012)

Monday - 9th July 2012


The Nuclear and Decommissioning Company entered with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development  15 grant agreements in total amount 280.3 million euros for the purpose of decommissioning nuclear power plant Jaslovské Bohunice. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

The elementary School in the village Hrušov in the district Veľký Krtíš was the first in Slovakia, which started to use the heat from the previously non-traditional sources - packages of dry straw. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

The Nuclear and Decommissioning Company made a post-tax profit 7.9 million euros last year. It is a decrease in amount 46 % on an annual basis. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Biogas power plant in Choňkovce may have a new dryer. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Tuesday - 10th July 2012


The private investor would like to build a biogas power plant in the village Gaboltov in Bardejov. The investment will be in amount of 3.6 million euros. It will process 28,500 tons of biomass (21,000 tons of grass silage and 7,500 tons of corn silage). (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Wednesday - 11th July 2012


The biogas power plant for muck in Liptovská Štiavnica exceeded expectations. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

There are approximately 1,150 people directly employed in the production of wide range of photovoltaic components. Further 550 persons are employed in related areas of project design, installation, system integration, development or administration of PV power plants. Preliminary survey results collected by Slovak Association of Photovoltaic Industry  (SAPI) also show that you may find around 30 companies operating in Slovak photovoltaic sector, many of them of domestic origin (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Thursday - 12th July 2012


The company TEKO has no money to pay wages. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

The mountain huts in the High Tatras usually use as a source of energy the diesel generator. The hut Chata pri Zelenom plese provides electric power from the renewed small hydroelectric power plant. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Friday - 13th July 2012

Regulatory Office for Network Industries has stopped the price action on a draft of the company Slovenský plynárenský priemysel to adjust regulated gas prices for households, confirmed a spokesman for the Regulatory Office Miroslav Lupták. The company submitted a proposal to increase prices for gas supply to households on average by 17%. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Some mayor of surrounding villages near Jaslovksé Bohunice resisted the planned storage of radioactive waste. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Slovak photovoltaic industry employs around 1,700 people


There are approximately 1,150 people directly employed in the production of wide range of photovoltaic components. Further 550 persons are employed in related areas of project design, installation, system integration, development or administration of PV power plants.

Preliminary survey results collected by Slovak Association of Photovoltaic Industry  (SAPI) also show that you may find around 30 companies operating in Slovak photovoltaic sector, many of them of domestic origin.

PV panels are produced near Košice, solar inverters are made in Brezno. Carrier systems for PV made in Liptovský Mikuláš and Púchov, as well as other components produced in branches of foreign companies in Bratislava and Dubnica nad Váhom are sold not at Slovak market but this products have successfully crossed domestic borders.

Three companies also directly engage in PV research activities. In Košice there is a private center for renewable energies.

Apart from production, subjects on photovoltaic are also being taught at technically specialized universities in Košice (TUKE), Žilina, Liptovský Mikuláš (satellite institute of University of Žilina) and in Bratislava. National center for research and application of renewable energy sources has been established at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava with the financial support from European Regional Development Fund. Other renewables are also pursued at three additional universities in Bratislava, Zvolen and Nitra.

SAPI is an associate member of European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). It was established in 2010.
 
The association has also been working on new concept of support for energy from small photovoltaic installations used in households or small enterprises. It is based on net-metering policy used in Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, but also in some provinces of Australia and Canada and in the USA. This policy has been included in law amendment which will come into force on August 1st, 2012.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

EBRD will finance energy efficiency drive in Slovnaft refinery

Hungarian MOL Group signed a loan contract worth up to US$150 million (€120 million) for the purpose of modernizing its Slovakian member – Slovnaft.

8.5 year unsecured senior loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will support Slovnaft Group, a refining and petrochemical company, in financing a number of improvements in energy efficiency and environmental performance.

Project includes installation of a new Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) petrochemical unit and upgrade of the plant’s steam cracker. Both will be among the most carbon efficient facilities in the European Union. The new equipment will reduce CO2 emissions by about 80,000 tones annually – the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 16,000 passenger vehicles.

The estimated costs for the whole project amount to €310 million and they are related to implementation of EU Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU). 

It is expected to demonstrate successful energy and environmental improvements that go beyond baseline standards in the industry, with a petrochemical facility exceeding Best Available Technique (BAT), becoming one of the 10% least carbon intensive in the EU, exceeding requirements of the Directive ahead of the deadline and introducing an integrated energy and management system at the level of the refinery and petrochemical complex.

The loan, signed on July 3rd, 2012, is a part of Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) of the EBRD. Since its establishment in 2006  the Bank has invested a total od €8,8 billion in energy efficiency projects in 29 countries.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Electricity production increased in 2011

Week in Slovakia (July 2 - July 8, 2012)

Monday - 2nd July 2012


Prime Minister Robert Fico during the two-day European Council meeting in Brussels, asked European colleagues to support the Slovak request for financing funding from the EU to complete the decommissioning of two nuclear reactors in Jaslovské Bohunice. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Project Open power plant reported a record number of visitors. In the area of ​​the hydro power plant Liptovská Mara culminated the sixth annual project Open power plant. The company Slovenské elektrárne have registered more than 70.000 visitors in its power plant since 2007. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Producers of electricity from solar energy have submitted to the Attorney General initiative for investigation procedure of the Regulatory Office for Network Industries. According to them reducing prices of electricity in the middle of the regulatory period is out of keeping with law. The Regulatroy Office has already reduces the purchasing price of electricity from photovoltaic plants by almost half, from the current € 194 per MWh to € 119 form July 1. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Tuesday - 3rd July 2012


New management in TEKO saved more than 180.000 euros in compensation. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Prime Minister Robert Fico will in Gemrnay discuss the sale of the Slovenský plynárenský priemysel. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Slovenský plynárenský priemysel began on its own terms, the preparation for possible sale of the subsidiary "eustream" and the network for transporting natural gas. Accoridg to the spokesman of the company Peter Bednár the company responds to the actual text of the Energy Act. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Friday - 6th July 2012


The Ministry of Economy of Slovak Republic started to negotiate the sale of minority share of the company Slovenský plynárenský priemysel. The Ministry has time to the third quarter of this year to decide on further action when the government will take a final decision on the transfer of a minority part in Slovak Gas Holding. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

Production of electricity in Slovakia annually increased by 415 GWh. The increase is over 1.50 % to the value of 28,135 GWh. Electricity consumption has increased in 2011by 101 GWh (an increase of 0.35%) to the value of 28,862 GWh, informed the Regulatory Office for Network Industries. (more information - automatic translation via Google Translate)

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

After “immoral proposal” Fico wants a quick sale of SPP shares owned by foreign companies


We all know that the Germans and French want to sell their 49 % in SPP. I think its time to sell very fast because what are they doing at the times of consolidating of public finances? When we are trying to keep people afloat so they can survive these difficult times they come with this immoral proposal at times when the market gas prices are decreasing,“ the Prime Minister Robert Fico said to media representatives during the European Council meeting in Brussels (June, 28-29).

„I consider as absolutely abusive what SPP is presenting in last weeks.“

On June 13th the gas utility Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP) filed for a 17 % rise in regulated gas prices for households.

According to the spokesperson of the SPP Peter Bednár, the reason for the proposed price adjustment is the fact that the company had no opportunity to consider their actual costs from the beginning of this year. At the gas prices adversely impinges also exchange rate of U.S. dollar against the euro.

The Minister of Economy Tomáš Malatinský immediately expressed his disagreement with the proposal. His spokesperson informed media that the ministry will advise the state’s representatives in the Board of Directors to vote in favour of cancelling the price proceedings altogether.

Outraged in Brussels, calm in Berlin

„I would like to tell the owners of 49 % od SPP shares from Germany and France that the colonial period is over. Slovakia is not a colony. They simply come, exaggerate their prices, make a profit and leave,“ he continued in Brussels. „We will use all the legal Instruments to make sure this price hike never happens. In Slovakia we got nothing from these investors. They did not invest in SPP, they just took money, made big fortune and now they are selling with profit again and leaving.“

The sale 49 % of SPP shares was also discussed by Robert Fico and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his official visit to Berlin on Tuesday (June, 3).

The day before the visit he repeated his long-term reservations about E.ON Ruhrgas and GdF Suez and expressed hopes for an SPP shareholder who would be more "tactful" with respect to Slovak consumers.

However, after the meeting it was Fico who was more tactful in his statements. Both leaders reportedly agreed not to mingle in the sale. The Slovak Prime Minsiter said there were no particular statements on this issue.

"These are economical decisions of the company and the Federal Cabinet cannot interfere," Angela Merkel added.

The Czech company Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) has repeatedly acknowledged its interest in purchase of the 49 % shares but refused to comment on new development.

On Tuesday the Slovak newspaper Sme quoted his spokesperson Martin Maňák: "We confirm interest of the EPH in partnership and cooperation with the state. Currently it is not possible to comment on any further steps."

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Some EU leaders have supported Slovak request for more funds on nuclear decommissioning


During European Council negotiations the Prime Minister Robert Fico asked his colleagues to support Slovak request for more EU funding to finish decommissioning of nuclear facility V1 in Bohunice. 

Even though the European Council, which was held on 28-29 June in Brussels, primarily focused on finding solutions to debt crisis, nuclear energy was one of the complementary issues being discussed. 

At press conference Robert Fico highlighted Slovak request to provide further EU assistance for final stage of decommissioning of two nuclear units in Bohunice. Together with his Czech counterpart Petr Nečas they opposed attempts to reopen questions about nuclear safety of power plants in both countries while approving the Council conclusions.

“We had to ask some big countries for help, and they did, which confirms that Slovakia is perceived as trustworthy partner,” Fico continued and expressed contentment of the conclusions in this matter.

The Europe-wide stress tests are not yet completed. Some nuclear facilities, including Czech NPP Temelín, are scheduled to experience additional visits. As EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger  explained in April the purpose is to “analyse some safety aspects in more detail”.

According to the conclusions, the European Council “invited Member States to ensure the full and timely implementation of the recommendations presented in the report from ENSREG“ and “noted the Commission's intention to present a comprehensive communication later this year“.

With regard to further funding to the continuation of safe decommissioning of the two units at V1 Fico confirmed that the European Commission proposed to provide assistance of €115 million during the upcoming multiannual financial framework (2014-2020). The original Commission proposal of 24 November 2011 spoke of €105 million funding.  

However, the actual costs are estimated to exceed €400 million. 

„I requested the Member States for understanding that we will not be able of further decommissioning of this nuclear power plant with €115 million, after they forced us to cease it. We are asking for at least €300 million,“ Fico said. 

The Prime Minister especially considers meeting with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz as favourable since the EP is the institution where this topic might be pushed through.

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