Slovenia strongly emphasizes infrastructure development as an integral component of its commitment to the green transition, together with developments in solar, wind, geothermal, and hydrogen energy projects, according to Selih & Partnerji Partner Blaz Ogorevc.
"Infrastructure is a major focus for the energy transition in Slovenia," Ogorevc begins. "The government has been making concerted efforts to keep pace with other markets and is actively promoting new infrastructural developments." He says that, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure, "while the country made significant progress in developing our road network, society recognizes that the future of the green transition lies in investments in railroads and energy." To this end, Ogorevc adds that Slovenia has undertaken a major project to build a second railway line from the Port of Koper to the mainland and expand its rail connections from the airport to Ljubljana.
"In addition, there has been discussion about solar projects, for which it is currently still a favorable time for private solar investment, though the grid capacity might be limited in certain areas," Ogorevc adds. "However, this limitation may soon impact smaller projects such as those for homeowners and shopping centers. Therefore, the government has acknowledged the limitations of the grid infrastructure and is making significant efforts to expand it to keep pace with the rate of development."
Additionally, Ogorevc highlights that "in Slovenia, currently, there are only two wind turbines, and there is a relevant potential in that regard, along with the anticipated expansion of a second-stage nuclear power plant." According to him, "the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley initiative, involving Slovenia, the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Croatia, aims to establish infrastructure for the production and distribution of hydrogen. This project is designed to balance the excess production from renewable sources."
As for the other market trends, Ogorevc highlights there has been significant M&A activity in the small and medium-sized deal space. "Moreover, the OTP acquisition of NKBM will result in consolidation of the largest (one of the two) banks in Slovenia once the merger with SKB is finalized," he notes. "We are also seeing many private and family companies either exiting or partnering with private equity funds, with venture capital transactions remaining highly prominent."
Furthermore, Ogorevc says, "Slovenia's reputation is primarily built on its logistics developments. While the state has made efforts to reduce administrative barriers, there is still room for improvement. This pertains also to the fact that 37% of the country is still covered by Natura 2000 sites." Therefore, he highlights "the importance of updating the current legislative framework and establishing a flexible system in which development and environmental efforts go hand in hand and do not act like arch-enemies."
Ogorevc also notes that the new FDI regulation will soon be implemented: "Over the past three years, we have had a particular piece of legislation regarding FDI adopted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is now being replaced by a more transparent law that should make it easier for EU investors to come to Slovenia."