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Vision2050 for Slovakia

The Slovakian Vision2050 includes a higher growth of energy service demands (heated floorspace etc.) than in the EU-15 countreis, and even though the same development of efficiencies are expected, less reductions in energy consumption are expected than in the EU. In spite of this it is expected that Slovakia could be self-sufficient with renewable energy in 2050. As it can be seen from the graphs below, the renewable energy potential is larger than the possible demand in 2050.


The data for Slovakia are preliminary, and will be improved as new and more detailed data are developed. A more detailed description of Vision2050 for Slovakia is available below and can also be downloaded here. (word doc 97 kB)

The article also can be found under FAE's web site in Slovakian and in English: FAE.

Vision2050 for a FOSSIL - FREE SLOVAKIA
Emil Bedi, Foundation for Alternative Energy,

The main outcome of this study is that fossil–free Slovakia till the year 2050 is possible. There do exist several scenarios for the future development of energy sector in this country with growth or even decline of energy consumption nevertheless substitution of fossil fuels by renewable is possible even under present condition by utilizing actual RE potential. Moreover worldwide growth of renewable energy technology (more than 30 percent annually in the last five years) provides indicator that the world has entered a new era in which replacement of fossil fuels in decades to come seems to be realistic. Despite the fact that the potential for renewable energy is increasingly recognized and utilized in many countries of the world, this is still not the case in Slovakia where government and businesses did not discovered these opportunities yet.

Fossil fuels cover 97 % of primary energy needs in Slovakia with huge share of imported fuels (almost 90%). This “starting position” could be turned into advantage because each ton of oil, coal or m3 of natural gas substituted by the renewables could have positive impacts on trade balance and job creation in the country. Currently domestic energy resources (brown coal and hydro) only account for 11 % of the energy supply. Imported energy resources (oil, gas, and nuclear fuel) mainly come from Russian Federation and mostly below market prices, through a number of bi-lateral agreements and from Czech Republic (coal). Electricity market is dominated by nuclear power and recent surplus of power production.

Table: Final energy consumption in PJ:

Agriculture + forestry
Services, commerce
Non energy consumption
Final energy consumption

Table: Final energy consumption by fuels in PJ.































Final Energy consumption






Coal is still a basic fuel resource. Almost a third of the total primary energy consumption is based on coal. Most of it (75 %) is domestic brown coal and the rest is imported hard or brown coal. Without subsidies, domestic brown coal cannot compete with imported hard coal or gas. The total state funding to the domestic coal sector (direct price production subsidies, retraining, early retirement programmes to miners) was about 200 mil. SKK per year in the late 1990s.

Gas consumption is continually growing and reached a status when more than 90 % of the population has access to the gas distribution network. Gas supply is almost totally dependent on imports from Russia. Domestic production covers less than 5 % of consumption. However one fifth of gas consumed in Western Europe is transported through Slovakia, the second largest country in the world (after Ukraine) for gas transport.

The current share of renewables is 3 % of the total energy production. The use of renewables other than hydropower is negligible. According to regulations, all the energy produced by the use of renewables must be purchased. Slovakia has great potential to use biomass from own forests.

About 40 % of primary energy consumption is used for heat production and roughly half of the households are served by district heating. The main energy source for district heating is natural gas (more than 70 %), often used in combined heat and power production. Almost 100 % of apartment houses are supplied with the heat through centralized heat systems what represents nearly 49 % of all apartments. Total heat production in centralized systems was 116 PJ in 1996. Heat producing facilities directly consumed 28 PJ and 88 PJ was delivered to consumers. Out of this amount around 40 PJ was used for apartment heating. The rest (48 PJ) was consumed by organizations for heating purposes in industry, services and public sector.

Table: Governmental outlook for the heat consumption (PJ) in Slovakia:

Households, services, public sectorIndividual heatingCentralized systems






Main fuel used for the heat production was natural gas with 71,3 % followed by coal (16,4 %), heavy oil (6,7 %) and other fuels mainly biomass (5,6%)

There are 1 617 828 appartments (1996) in Slovakia. Out of this amount 799 624 is in apartment houses, 811 440 single family houses and there are 6 764 others. Average apartment area is 100 m2 and typical heat consumptuion is 33 GJ per year.

Electricity consumption in Slovakia was unstable in the 1990s. Consumption decreased due to the economic transformation for four years until 1993. Then increased and left almost stable in last 3 years. Since year 1999, Slovakia has become electricity exporter. Nuclear power covered 47 % of the production; thermal power plants produced 35 % and hydropower 18 %. Six nuclear power reactors are currently in operation. In 1999 the government decided, after negotiations with the EU, to shut down the two oldest units in Jaslovske Bohunice, in 2006 a 2008 respectively. There have been long discussions on the completion of the two units in Mochovce nuclear power plant. In 2000 Slovak government decided not to finance the completion works because of economic concerns and a large surplus of electricity production in the country in the years ahead.

Table: Electricity consumption in TWh and growth of gross domestic product (GDP):








GDP growth %







Power consumption, TWh








Transmission losses, TWh







Export import TWh








During the last few years slight increase of electricity consumption was in sector of small consumers (households, commerce). Power consumption in industry was declining. Predictions made by power utilities on future increase of electricity consumption did not materialise in Slovakia. Combining predicted growth of GDP with growth of electricity consumption showed to be the wrong approach especially in new power plants planning.

Surplus of power capacity in 2001 for different countries:
Installed capacity (MW) Maximal load (MW)
France 112500 69600
Germany 112200 81200
Austria 17200 8300
Switzerland 16000 8500
Italy 68300 44000
Slovakia 8286 4390
Minimal load in Slovakia was 3179 MW.

Higher energy intensity is typical for many countries with economies in transition. In Slovakia is due to low productivity, high share of heavy industry in GDP, and a high share of energy intensive industries compared to the EU average. Improving energy intensity should be a clear policy priority and is considered here as inevitable. Due to the policy oriented on phasing out of all energy subsidies and establishing market prices at all levels, energy intensity is continually decreasing. It declined during the 1990s roughly by one-fourth (total energy supply declined by about 20%), but is still 1,75 times higher than OECD Europe average.

Energy intensity in the year 1999.
Country Toe/1000USD
Slovakia 0,33
Czech rep. 0,30
Hungary 0,23
OECD Europe 0,19
OECD 0,22

Although energy prices for all consumer groups have been rising, household prices for electricity and natural gas are still less than industrial prices. Higher than market prices paid by industries are thus subsidising lower household prices (cross subsidies). This situation is just the opposite of what is common in EU. Energy prices for household consumers (i.e. heating, electricity, transport fuels) however represent around 20 % of the average household budget, compared to 5 % in western European countries or North America. Cross-subsidies from large industrial consumers to households are nevertheless being phased out.
The potential for energy savings in Slovakia is large, but relatively low energy prices and energy surplus capacity make it difficult to improve energy efficiency and develop renewable energy sources now. Highest energy savings can be achieved in heating of houses. According to the experience gained with heat isolation of houses in Slovakia the savings of up to 50 % or 18 GJ per average flat can be achieved. Consumption of energy for heating is wasteful also at industrial installations. Campaigns for energy savings, product certification and standardization, energy audits, and other similar measures are rarely used. However new legislation dealing with energy efficiency and related programmes is being prepared. Improving energy efficiency seems to be very important and could increase the country’s industrial and services competitiveness.

2. VISION 2050
When looking into the future we can assume that the future energy consumption will have to cover the similar type of needs as today:
· heat and warm water preparation,
· electricity consumption and
· energy for transportation.

To estimate the amount of future consumption is difficult task. There are several factors influencing the consumption leading to possible reduction or even increase of energy consumption.
Future reduction of energy consumption is possible due to the fact that:
· Energy savings due to improving energy intensity will happen anyway because it is a clear policy priority today. Energy subsidies will be removed completely. Energy intensity is still twice as high as the OECD average. This is due to low productivity, high share of heavy industry in GDP, and a high share of energy intensive industries compared to the EU average. In the process of accession to EU and keeping pace on competitive markets domestic industry energy intensity will have to decline.
· More efficient technologies will be used in the future due to its regular changing. All recent technologies mainly electricity driven devices will be substituted by new ones. We can assume that the best available energy efficiency technology today is the average technology in 2050.
· Almost half of the buildings will be new (built after the year 2000) and will be built according to stricter energy regulations.
· Strong political efforts for energy savings will appear on international scene due to future CO2 reduction criteria after 2012 (second commitment period), oil crisis due to the lack of cheap oil after 2020.
· Decline of Slovak population according to demographical outlook can play another role. Slovak population will decline from 5,5 mil. In 2000 to less than 5 mil. in 2050 if no family supported measures are adopted.

Increase of energy consumption in comparison to recent level could be stimulated by higher household consumption which is still lower in Slovakia than in EU countries and even due to the introduction new technologies not known today which could lead to higher electricity consumption. Higher heat consumption does not seem to be realistic in the future.
Due to the above mention unpredictable developments we assume that for the purpose of this study it is somehow reasonable to start with presumption that future energy consumption could stay on present levels what means for Slovakia:
· 250 PJ for heat (heating + warm water preparation) and
· 28 TWh of electricity production in 2050.

The crucial question is how to substitute all fossil fuels used today for covering above mentioned heat and electricity consumption by renewables in 2050.
There is one important and outstanding question of how to estimate and cover the energy needs for transportation – the fastest growing energy sector. Transport sector and rising consumption of oil worldwide (in some parts very strong) will definitely lead to strong tensions on oil markets long before 2050. There are several indications for that:
· World oil reserves are assumed to last for 39 years (
· Peak of oil production (higher demand than production) will come between 2010 and 2020 and will push the oil prices high.
· Share of OPEC oil will rise to 50 % of world production until 2020. Share of oil imports in industrialized countries will rise. This will stimulate EU and US policy towards utilization of other fuels.
· Natural gas resources cannot replace diminishing oil.

Taking all this into account we can assume that there will be strong political will for substitution of oil as the main transportations energy carrier in near future (until 2020). Joint political efforts in oil importing countries (US, EU, Japan) will lead to strong financial support for alternative fuels in transportation. Fuel cells seem to be the obvious answer. As a result we can assume that there will be a solution for alternative fuels for transportation on international level. Because it is not possible to determine the energy carrier for this (it can be electricity, hydrogen, biofuels or something else) yet we leave this question open. Nevertheless if the world’s transportation will be based on fuel cells and higher electricity production will be needed for generation of hydrogen there are enough resources to cover this consumption on worldwide scale. Potentially higher electricity consumption for Slovakia due to future transportation needs is not addressed by this study.

Despite the fact that substituting of fossil fuels by renewables can be linked to several specific difficulties like utilizing RE in big cities or substituting natural gas in centralized heating systems this is considered to be technical problem which can be solved when needed. Financial requirements for RE technologies are sometimes higher than in case of cross-subsidised fossil fuels and thus can create a limitation. Nevertheless for the purpose of this study we estimated the potential of RE which are cost competitive on EU market today (wind, biomass, hydro, geothermal, thermal solar). More expensive technologies like PV are considered to be cost competitive in near future.

Recent hydropower production is around 3,8 TWh/yr and can be increased considerably. According to the governmental estimate the total potential for electricity production in hydro power plant is 6,61 TWh/year according to some other sources this could be up to 7,38 TWh/yr. Despite the fact that there will be hardly 100 % utilisation of this potential (in some countries it is more than 90 %) we consider production of 6,61 TWh/yr. as the upper bound here.

Important feature of Slovak hydropower production is its utilisation of large pump hydro power plants. Their total capacity today represents 1015 MW and 600 MW is in planning. Due to the excellent geographical conditions the potential for pump hydro is much larger and according to the previous estimates it can reach up to 10.000 MW. This can be used in future as the important energy storage what is of crucial importance if RE like PV or wind is to be used on broader scale.

Total hydro potential for power production – 6,61 TWh/yr.

Wind power is not utilised in Slovakia yet. First larger wind mills - four 600 MW turbines are in planning stage. This technology, which is already cost competitive in some EU countries, is delayed in Slovakia mainly due to the low feed in tariffs. In case that governmental policy will change we can estimate the wind potential with the means of following methodology.
1. Assessing the land (square kilometres) available for wind turbines sitting. Only areas with average annual wind speeds more than 5-5,5 metres per second (m/sec) at a height of ten metres above ground are taken into account. This average speed is recognised as feasible for the exploitation of win energy at today’s generating costs.
2. Estimating the number of wind turbines per square kilometre.
3. Multiplying number of turbines by average annual power production. Power production by average 600 kW turbine at 6m/sec average wind speed is taken as 1 GWh/yr.

The total available land resource for Slovakia was estimated by the ministry of economy at 257 km2 in 43 regions (wind velocity higher than 5 m/sec). It should be mentioned that further improvements in the technology will extent the potential for utilising wind speeds of less than 5 m/sec. and the potential area can be considerably larger. Nevertheless for the purpose of this study 257 km2 were taken into account. According to the sitting experience up to 25 turbines can be placed in area of 1 km2. The distance from each other will be at least 200 meters.
Theoretical annual power production from 25 turbines (600 MW each) or 1 km2 will be 25 GWh/year. This gives the theoretical potential of 6,4 TWh/yr. for the whole potential area (257 km2).

Total wind potential for power production – 6,4 TWh/yr.

Biomass can be utilised in different ways. According to the domestic experience the heat production seems to be the most cost effective at present. Nevertheless biogas utilisation with combined heat and power production and biofuels for transportation (biodiesel) are becoming more and more competitive on Slovak market even without subsidies. All these technologies are available in Slovakia and can be introduced in short period of time. Energy plantation is considered in this study because of relatively huge land area available which is not supposed to be used for food production. According to the government it will be reforested.

As the biomass resource we assume waste wood, straw, manure from agricultural farms and a land area available for energy plantation.

Wood and straw potential can be estimated from recent numbers of wood and grain production. For the estimate of energy plantation we used Slovak experience with experimental plantation of Salix viminalis. Weight gain up to 15 t/ha/yr of dry matter can be expected (30 t/ha/yr fresh matter) with the density 10 000 cuttings per ha.

Wood, straw and energy plantation potential for Slovakia.
Mil. ton/yr. PJ/yr
Fuel wood + waste wood from forestry (fresh) 1,5 15,0
Straw (1/3 out of 3 mil. tonnes of grain production per year) 1,0 14,2
Straw from rape seed production (40.000 ha * 4 t/ha) dry 0,16 2,9
Energy plantation (400.000 ha) dry matter of Salix viminalis 6,0 135,0
TOTAL 17,66 167,1

Energy content used for this estimate:
fresh wood - 10 GJ/ton
dry wood – 15 GJ/ton
straw – 14,2 GJ/ton
rape seed straw - 18 GJ/t

For the estimation of biogas potential we can use the numbers of animals (cattle, pigs and poultry) and derive biogas production in m3. From this the heat and power production can be estimated according to domestic experiences with this technology.

Biogas potential for Slovakia.
Total stock Annual manure production Annual electricity production Annual heat production
Cattle (500 kg) 1 mil. 10 mil. Ton 300 mil. KWh 2 PJ
Pigs (150 kg) 2 mil. 6 mil. Ton 180 mil. kWh 1,2 PJ
Poultry 12 mil. 0,36 mil. Ton 12 mil. kWh 0,08 PJ
TOTAL 492 mil. kWh 3,3 PJ

Data are based on results from biogas facility in Batka. Inputs for this facility are following:

Average manure production: 149,3 t/day
Average biogas production: 2587,5 m3/d (63,5 % CH4)
Average power production: 4485,9 kWh/d
Average heat production: 29,1 GJ/d.

Geothermal energy is used in Slovakia for several decades. Present utilisation is around 1,2 PJ per year. Main use is for heating purposes (swimming pools, agriculture). Just recently geothermal energy was introduced for heating apartment houses and also for power production. The total potential for this source is almost inexhaustible and theoretically could cover all our energy needs. However for the purpose of this study only governmental estimate of „practically available potential“ is used. According to this source the utilisation of 22,68 PJ/yr. until the year 2010 can be achieved. It should be noted that huge potential of geothermal energy could be used by means of heat pumps.

Geothermal potential for the heat production - 22,68 PJ/year.

Solar energy can cover all our energy needs. Utilisation of solar collectors and passive solar energy use are the most cost effective ways and are becoming more and more popular in Slovakia. These technologies can substitute huge part of our needs for heating and warm water preparation. Despite some financial restrains today, photovoltaic can be considered as the most important source of electricity and is supposed to cover large part of our power needs in 2050.

For the purpose of this study the potential of solar energy for heating purposes is estimated with the goal to cover the rest of energy needs after utilisation of wind, hydro, biomass and geothermal potentials. Taking into account average typical performance of solar collector for heat production of 350 kWh/yr/m2 or 1,26 GJ/yr/m2 we can estimate that using 10 m2 per person or utilising 50 mil. m2 of solar collector area we can achieve the heat production of 63,0 PJ per year. Despite the fact that such an area seems to be very large it should be noticed that for future energy needs combination with e.g. heat pumps (geothermal energy) is also available Thus decreasing the collector area needed. Nevertheless 10 m2 per person can be achieved only by utilisation of roofs of the recent buildings. Constructing large solar collector fields for centralised heating systems could be considered as an alternative to placing of collectors on roofs.

Solar thermal potential for the heat production - 63 PJ/year.

Electricity produced by photovoltaics is becoming widely accepted as the major source of power in the future. Nevertheless here it is considered as the additional source to the “already realised potential” of wind, hydro and biogas. It is assumed that price advantage of these sources will lead to the full utilisation of their potential as estimated above. For the Slovak electricity needs it is estimated that 15 TWh/year should be covered by photovoltaics. Size of 100 mil. m2 seems to be sufficient for the production of this amount of electricity. This PV area is based on the average power production of typical PVs on the market today. For the average solar irradiation in Slovakia a typical PV system can produce 150 kWh per year per m2.

Total solar potential for power production – 15 TWh/yr.

To summarise the potentials for renewables in Slovakia we can conclude that wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal and solar energy can cover all our energy needs in the future. It should be noticed that potentials of hydro and biomass are suggested to be fully utilised (technical potential) and higher gains most likely cannot be expected in the future. Potential for wind is based on recent possibilities and future increase of power production is likely due to the improvements in technology. Wind together with geothermal and solar energy can easily produce more than what is estimated here.

Total potential of RE in Slovakia.
Annual power production in TWh Annual heat production in PJ
Hydro 6,61
Wind 6,4
Wood, straw, energy plantation 167,1
Biogas 0,49 3,3
Geothermal 22,7
Solar thermal 63,0
PV 15,0
TOTAL 28,5 256,1


Looking into future we can assume that there are at least two important factors which will influence the way to fossil-free future. Strong development in renewable energy technology and upcoming political tensions in the world due to diminishing oil resources.

We can assume that renewables will clearly dominate the energy market and can substitute the fossil fuels in 2050 in the world. Since early 90s renewable energy markets have developed worldwide considerably. Wind power generation has risen from 2170 MW at the beginning of 1992 to 24800 MW at the beginning of 2002 - a more than tenfold increase in 10 years. The annual production of solar cells has risen from 55 MW in 1991 to 391 MW in 2001, a seven-fold increase. These growth rates-averaging more than 30 percent annually in the last five years provide early indicators that the world has entered the post-petroleum century.

The extraordinary growth of renewable energy in the past decade was driven by dynamic markets in only few countries. In the case of wind power, three quarters of the global capacity is found in Germany, the United States, Spain, Denmark, Japan and India. The success of these countries stems from policies they have adopted in the last decade. The challenge for us is to extend the success of these five nations to the world as a whole. For small country like Slovakia the example of Denmark should be brought into consideration. It is essential that national policy include a clear recognition of the important role of renewable energy in powering our future.

Meanwhile it is hard to expect that Slovakia will take a lead without any outside pressure. It is clear that without strong EU leadership or nothing will change too much in the near future. Nevertheless there are some political indicators for future changes of energy policy towards renewables:
· EU dependency on imported fuels is becoming increasingly worrying. Future pressure on member states to increase their share of renewables is necessary. It is obvious that Slovakia as the future member state with its 97% reliance on fossil fuels will have to follow the line.
· Political tensions in the world due to the lack of cheap oil and diminishing resources seems to be inevitable. The only way out is to introduce renewables in broad scale.
· Efforts to avoid disastrous impacts of climate change will lead to strong international commitments towards reduction of greenhouse gases. Substitution of fossil fuels by renewables could lead to much higher gains than all other “flexible mechanisms” like planting trees etc.

We can expect that between 2010 and 2020 the world will face a new situation which will be highly favourable for renewables not only from political perspective but also mainly because of increased competitiveness of renewables on the market. According to the estimates of renewable energy potential in Slovakia presented above we can assume that fossil free future can be realised by utilisation of present technologies. All other future breakthroughs in technology can only make it easier.