How is the energy sector preparing for a sustainable tomorrow? This was the central question of the first Slovenian Energy Forum conference held at the House of the European Union on November 23, 2023.

How is the energy sector preparing for a sustainable tomorrow? This was the central question of the first Slovenian Energy Forum conference held at the House of the European Union on November 23, 2023. At the event organized by the Transformation Lighthouse organization, representatives from the government, industry, expertise, and non-governmental organizations spoke.

At the event organized by the Transformation Lighthouse organization, representatives from the government, industry, expertise, and non-governmental organizations spoke. They discussed the pivotal period in which we are directing our focus towards sustainability and the urgent need for changes across the broad spectrum of the energy sector, from strategic decisions to concrete measures.

In the opening address, Tina Srešen, State Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment, Climate, and Energy, addressed us. She highlighted that Slovenia is lagging behind in the transition to a low-carbon society. She also emphasized the urgent need for raising awareness and educating people to address climate scepticism and resistance to change.

Lučka Kajfež Bogataj informed us about current climate trends that call for immediate changes and actions. The Earth will continue to warm; the only question is by how much. Slovenia is in a region experiencing above-average warming, with the Arctic North being the most severely affected. As an expert with decades of experience, she notes that we ask too many questions and take too few actions.

In a conversation with Roman Bernard, the founder and co-owner of n-gen, we learned about how the electricity market operates and the limitations encountered in Slovenia. In their company, they are intensely focused on the digitalization and decentralization of electric power systems and networks.

The sustainable energy future was discussed with Member of Parliament Tomaž Lah, Jonas Sonnenschein from Umanotera, and Domen Kodrič from the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER). Domen Kodrič emphasized that the European Union recognizes an important aspect of a sustainable future: a unified, efficient system of electricity supply. The EU’s goal is to ensure the flow of electricity from the most suitable production sites to the end-users, where this energy is needed.

A very important topic topic of discussion was Justice and Inclusivity in the Green Transition, involving Lidija Živčič from the Focus Association for Sustainable Development. She emphasized that while the sustainable energy transition is showing initial signs of becoming greener, it doesn’t yet show enough signs of fairness. Mojca Vendramin from Eco Fund spoke about the preparation of a new, slightly broader call for energy renovation of households with low incomes, providing assistance with application procedures. Furthermore, Črt Poglajen, a sustainability energy expert, reiterated the urgent need for citizen involvement in the energy policy discussion.

In the last panel discussion on Accelerating Innovation and Activities in Decarbonization, Violeta Bulc, the founder and director of the sustainable company Vibacom, curator of the Ecocivilization, and former European Commissioner for Transport, sees the greatest innovation opportunities in the energy sector in the development of modern, energy-efficient storage systems.Among the significant opportunities are dynamic grid models (such as the n-gen model), where systems need to be bidirectional, involving both energy intake and release. She also sees an opportunity in increasing the efficiency of solar cells. Furthermore, she highlighted that new materials represent an exceptional strategic opportunity for the country and will impact changes in energy efficiency. Bulc emphasized the importance of railway infrastructure as the greenest transportation route and highlighted new energy sources as areas with significant potential for innovation.

Representative and head of the Laboratory for Energy Policy at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Tomi Medved, emphasized the challenge faced by Europe: devoting funds for the development of technological solutions without ensuring their efficient implementation. According to him, investments should be made in low-voltage grids and energy communities, citing a good example of best practice in the energy community of Luče, which is part of the EU project COMPILE. However, he stressed that a necessary strategy should come from the state to support these initiatives.

Other participants, David Batič, Head of Market Development and Monitoring at the Energy Agency, Jošt Štrukelj, Director of Suncontract, Jakob Gajšek, Director of the Ljubljana University Incubator, and Izidor Ostan Ožbolt, Youth for Climate Justice, also took an active part in the debate. They stressed the importance of supporting technical and social innovation and of targeting people who think differently.

All the acquired information and insights into the current situation of a sustainable, fair green transition will also be utilized in the 3DIVERSE project, which similarly aims to seek innovative solutions and establish a fair transition from both innovative and socio-social perspectives.

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