My next stop, Slovenia, is far removed from Garda’s tranquil lakeside paradise. As I slip back into the hustle and bustle of city life, I’m struck by Ljubljana’s vibrancy. Slovenia’s capital city, renowned for its expansive art and culture. A city littered with museums, historic statues, and a sparkling, curving river. The riverside is the view of countless cafes, restaurants, and bars. But the central markets are only part of the city’s charm. Even in central Ljubljana, you’re never far from nature. Described as a city with a green soul, it holds the European Green Capital award and hosts green spaces right down to the heart of the city centre.
The city’s beauty was defined by Jože Plečnik. A 20th-century modern architect, for whom sustainability is nestled at the heart of his work. Combining sustainability and contemporary mobility, the city has harnessed the green soul of the architect who designed it. Banning traffic from the centre and offering free taxis to those less able to travel by public transport.
The innovation of the city’s green initiative is found in its expansive solar industry. Last year, the city took sustainable transport to the next level, commissioning a 500kW photovoltaic plant on the rooftop of Ljubljana’s airport. Slashing CO2 emissions by 250 tonnes per year. Jet setting and sustainability have never been a familiar pairing, but this move has set a precedent for what large fossil fuel consumers can do to reduce their footprint.
Solar is rising up in the most unexpected places. From domestic homes to European airports, it’s not just Ljubljana that’s making unprecedented moves toward a greener future.
Symbolising a fresh start for Slovenia
Making my way around the city, admiring the infamous dragon bridge, and trekking up to the Ljubljana castle, I strike up a conversation with the locals. It’s safe to say my Hungarian is worse than my Italian, but I’m happily indulged and we chat in English. I learn that Slovenia truly is doing its bit. In 2020, the National Energy and Climate Plan was adopted and a third of Slovenian electricity was produced by renewables. This plan looked to 2030, aiming for renewable energy to make up at least 27% of Slovenia’s total usage. Alongside 43% of its electricity consumption.
The Slovenian government is gearing up. The plan? To increase their photovoltaic capacity by 1,000 megawatts by 2025. Their end goal is admirable. To allow people from all walks of life access to cheap, sustainable energy. In the midst of an energy crisis felt, not just at home but across the water, the Slovenian government is bringing community and stability to the forefront of their plans.
Across the country, homes and small businesses will make use of the endless sun. Powering themselves through a community platform, available in areas where the grid can handle the expansion. Bringing solar power to a third of Slovenian households. To those who haven’t had the opportunity. And hope for a stable, sustainable future for many more.
For one whole year, the government is also promising to freeze bills for households and small businesses. Music to the ears of those struggling with rising energy costs. And a source of envy for those of us living in the UK. The freeze will come into action on September 1st… Perhaps that’s enough time to pack up and move?
There are a million and one reasons to go solar. Both in relation to domestic and business installations. Saving money is a huge one. Investing in solar is investing in your future. Both ethically and financially. But upfront costs are often hefty and tough to work around. Slovenia is doing something right when it comes to investing in solar. The country provides a list of various support schemes. From large-scale installations of public services to domestic heating and cooling and transport systems. Alongside a training scheme for renewable energy installers and a certification scheme for installations. All are aimed at promoting the development and usage of renewable energy. The expansion of the solar industry is more complicated than throwing solar panels on a roof. It’s going to take dedication and investment. From governments and business owners. From you. And from me. Incentives such as these demonstrate a push, spreading the appeal of solar. After all, isn’t helping solar reach the very corners of our world what this is all about?