In March 2007, the EU agreed that by 2020, 20% of its total energy requirements would be met through renewable sources of energy – biomass, water, wind and sun. Individual targets were set for each EU member country. To help Slovenia reach its national target, funds have been provided through the enlargement contribution for the promotion of renewable energy. Switzerland has contributed CHF 3.68 million to support the use of renewable energies in municipalities in the Slovenian coastal region of Primorska.
Longest solar noise barrier in Slovenia
The project consists of three parts. First, a 648-metre-long noise barrier along a segment of the motorway leading to Italy has been fitted with solar panels. The longest of its kind in Slovenia, this noise-protection wall now generates enough solar energy for all public lighting in the town of Šempeter.
Heating with biomass
As a second component of the project, Switzerland has supported the installation of 12 biomass heating systems that have since been providing heating to 29 public buildings by using locally-produced wood chips and pellets, which is both cost-effective and sustainable. Twelve of these buildings have also been made energy efficient. Among the 29 buildings are schools and kindergartens with nearly 2,000 children as well as two information centres in Triglav National Park which is visited by 45,000 people every year. Thanks to the biomass conversions and renovations for improved energy efficiency, heating costs in these buildings will be reduced by about 50% and energy consumption by 30%.
Information campaign with television competition
The third part of the project is a public awareness campaign. Screens showing the production of renewable energy and CO2 savings have been set up in Triglav National Park, schools and near the motorway's solar noise barrier. For those who are interested, all the information can also be found in real time on the internet. Local events, brochures, textbooks, the internet and other media were used on a regular basis to raise awareness of issues related to sustainability among the public, local businesspeople, over 20,000 teachers and pupils. The schools involved are continuing to do awareness-raising work after the end of the project. "Renewable energy groups" have been set up in each of the schools involved in the project with the aim of teaching pupils about energy efficiency and renewable energy, training young people to become "energy managers" who in turn raise awareness of this topic among their peers. School classes from all over Slovenia can come to the Eco House in Cerkno to learn about sustainability issues. In spring 2015, a well-known business magazine described the project as the most successful and sustainable educational programme in the whole of Slovenia.
Other projects to promote renewable energy in Slovenia
In total, Switzerland has contributed around CHF 9 million to two projects in Slovenia to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Alongside funds for the coastal region of Primorska, assistance has also been provided to the Gorenjska region in the north-west of the country.