Slovakia is setting an accelerating timeline to phase out its coal mining subsidies by 2023, Economy Minister Peter Ziga told an energy conference in Bratislavia earlier this week.
“We will soon unveil an action plan and announce the year 2023 as the end of subsidies for the coal mines,” he told media. “It does not mean they would have to close immediately. We have to work with the European Commission to show people alternatives.”
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Slovakia “subsidizes mining at the country’s only coal company, privately-owned Hornonitrianske Bane Prievidza (HBP), paying around €100 million a year,” Reuters reports. “Closing the mines has long been contentious as they employ around 4,000 people directly and 11,000 indirectly,” although a booming Slovak auto industry could deliver retraining opportunity for workers.
The mines currently supply coal to the 266-megawatt Novaky power plant in central Slovakia, identified by the environment ministry as the country’s second-biggest carbon emitter. But plant operator Slovenske Elektrarne announced earlier this year that running the plant beyond 2023 would require significant new investment.
In related news, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development issued a new draft energy sector strategy Wednesday that withholds financing for new coal projects. The policy is up for final approval by the EBRD board in December. It emerged after the EBRD announced it would follow the World Bank’s lead  and decline to finance a proposed 500-MW coal-fired power plant in Kosovo.