Copernicus Sentinels explore Slovakia’s energy transition
30 March 2023
An analysis of satellite imagery collected over energy infrastructure in Slovakia has highlighted the country’s plans to phase out coal-fired generating plants in favour of more sustainable power sources.
The coal power industry has traditionally been an important contributor to Europe’s energy mix and it employs more than 200 000 people across the continent.
The European Commission is providing tailored assistance to coal regions as they scale back their activities, to ensure the continued provision of energy and mitigate any negative economic or social consequences.
This support has helped the Slovakian government to reaffirm its commitment to phase out its coal-powered industries, setting out a clear strategy to achieve this objective in the coming years.
Guillaume Aurel, remote sensing scientist at VisioTerra, says, “To highlight this positive and significant contribution to Europe’s energy transformation, we used Copernicus Sentinel imagery to explore Slovakia’s existing energy infrastructure.
“The analysis was completed as part of the Sentinel Vision project, which showcases the countless applications and benefits of Copernicus Sentinel data.”
The Sentinel Vision team combined a number of processing techniques with Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery to capture the Novácky coal power station – located in the central-east region of the country – and the Vojany coal and gas plant, located in the east.
Novácky is one of Slovakia’s largest carbon emitters, releasing some 1.2m tonnes of CO2 in 2021. This station – as well as the coal-powered element of the Vojany plant – is set to be decommissioned by the end of this year.
The government is already advancing preparations to replace these plants with clean energy systems, providing jobs for the community and ensuring the continued provision of locally produced energy to the national grid.
Novácky and Vojany currently produce below 10% of Slovakia’s total energy output, a relatively small proportion when compared to nuclear facilities, which are estimated to generate more than 50% of the countries power.
Slovakia’s two nuclear power stations, Mochovce and Bohunice, are both located in the east of the country.
The energy delivered by these facilities is complemented by Slovakia’s gas plants, which remain an important part of the energy mix. However, Slovakia is now exploring alternatives to this source of power.
Wind energy, for instance, has great potential for expansion.
Slovakia currently hosts two windfarms – located in Cerova and Ostry Vrch – and there are plans to scale-up this industry by developing turbine facilities on the soon-to-be decommissioned coal-fired energy sites.
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