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NEW ENERGY PLANTS IN THE PIPELINE

Slovakia faces a power deficit

SLOVAKIA is the first country in the European Union to face a chronic power deficit.

SLOVAKIA is the first country in the European Union to face a chronic power deficit.

But shortages are expected to occur across Europe by 2012 as a result of its unstable commodity markets and governments that keep tight control over prices, Nicola Cotugno, head of the trade department at Slovenské Elektrárne (SE) said as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Cotugno made the comments at a conference entitled Trading Electricity in a Free Market organised by the Institute for International Research.

Cotugno continued that Slovakia's power shortage will influence prices. Imports will increase to 20-25 percent of electricity consumed. As the dependence on imports grows, new players will be established on the market, leading to increased competition.

"Imports will be the basic value that will determine energy prices," Cotugno said.

Slovakia began importing about two terawatts of power last year, according to SE.

But Slovakia's ignominous position as "leader" in the race toward a power shortage could be turned into an advantage, Cotugno commented.

"If we invest in energy sources at the right time and in the right place, we can become a net exporter to the entire region," Cotugno said.

However, investment costs are huge and the price of equipment continues to rise every year, which means a return on the investment could take 15 to 20 years. In order to make encourage investment, Slovakia needs legislation with a long-term perspective, Contugno said.

Slovenské Elektrárne is a member of the Italian group Enel, which purchased a 66-percent share of the company at the end of April 2006.

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