Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The sector is in need of modernization, and the government plans to prioritize it to drive growth.
Despite being a small country, Slovenia has one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union. In 2019, Slovenia’s per capita GDP amounted to $26,621. While GDP grew by 4.5% in 2018, more than twice the GDP growth rate for the EU as a whole that year, it slowed to 2.9% growth in 2019. In late 2019, Slovenia’s GDP growth was predicted to stay above 2% percent in the years ahead. However, due to the pandemic, current estimates predict a decrease in GDP of 6% to 8% for 2020. Consequently, the Slovenian government is taking specific action to promote the local economy, with a focus on infrastructure projects in particular.
Imports to Slovenia have been growing at an annual average rate of 3.7%. The country ranks 37th out of 190 on the Ease of Doing Business index maintained by the World Bank, and is thus considered a stable partner in international business.
The energy sector is one of the Slovenian sectors that is least threatened by the pandemic, as the Slovenian government plans to continue with investments this year in order to promote the local economy. Slovenia has annual total energy consumption of 57,242 GWh. Oil represents 45% of this total, followed by electricity (24%) and renewables (14%). Electricity generation is equally divided between hydropower, nuclear energy and coal.
At 6,481.66 kWh per capita, Slovenia’s per-person rate of energy consumption is relatively high. One of the main reasons for this is the low energy efficiency of many buildings. In addition, a significant percentage of households live in energy poverty, where people have inadequate levels of essential energy services like heating, lighting and powered appliances. The government’s new national energy concept of 2018 aims to solve this issue by improving energy efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and restricting the use of fossil fuels. Slovenia’s vision for its energy sector is a gradual transition to low-carbon energy sources by focusing on efficient energy consumption, using more renewable energy sources and developing active electricity distribution networks. This strategy will likely include the further development of hydroelectric power and reliance on nuclear energy.
Consequently, 10 new hydropower plants with planned investments of $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion will be constructed on the Sava River. In addition, a new pumped storage power plant worth $450 million will be built, and $245 million will be invested in the existing nuclear power plant Krško to improve its security.
In 2019, Wisconsin companies exported energy, power and control goods worth $4.1 billion, making it one of the largest export categories. However, Wisconsin companies are barely exporting any goods in that sector to the Slovenian market. The 2018 energy concept creates potential for Wisconsin companies in the market, as the Slovenian government prioritizes its energy infrastructure and invests heavily in energy projects, where specialized knowledge and modern technology and parts are required.
Having neglected the sector for a long time, Slovenia needs to invest heavily in its energy infrastructure in the near future. This creates opportunities for Wisconsin businesses. At the same time, Slovenia’s location in Central Europe will allow it to act as a gateway for Wisconsin companies to further explore Eastern European markets. The Slovenian Energy Association is organizing an international conference in Portorož, Slovenia, to bring together local and international experts for conversation and collaboration. The conference was originally scheduled to take place Sept. 13-15, 2020. For current information, please visit the website: https://www.sze.si/en/about-the-conference-of-sze-2020/.