Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Day 3: Easier riding, serious talking

After two days biking to Ljubljana, the Green Bike team took it a little easier on Monday, but we learned much in meeting with Slovenians.

We took short rides in and around the city, first at the Jozef Stefan Institute with Stane Merse and Ales Podgornik, to discuss energy efficiency and renewable energy in Slovenia. They believe their country needs every renewable energy source on the table. French graduate student Antonia Colonna d’Istria also attended.

All 27 European Union countries must report how they plan to reach an average of 20 percent of total energy produced from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. Slovenia has set a goal of 25 percent. The Stefan Institute has 15 people working with the Ministry of Economics on an action plan to reach that goal.

Slovenia gets roughly a third of its electricity from coal, another third from a single nuclear plant and the remainder from hydroelectric power and a small amount of solar. Slovenia will expand hydro, add some wind and produce much more solar electric power. Stane believes that this — plus energy efficiency — makes the goal feasible, but transportation challenges might present a problem in reaching it.

We also met at the Okolojisk Center, learning from one expert about cleaning trash from the oceans, and from staff at various other organizations. Groups working on energy policy were more enthusiastic about energy efficiency — trains vs. cars and reducing energy use in buildings — than in wind power.

One group, Focus, put on a message through dance. Available on YouTube at the Focus site, www.focus.si, it shows 200 young people milling around the capital train station, then suddenly starting about a two-minute dance routine that ends abruptly. The message is that Slovenia missed the first train by concentrating on new highways, but still had a chance to catch the last train.

Others we met were from CIPRA, www.cipra.org, Institute for Sustainable Development, www.itr.si Solenski E-Forum, www.se-f.si and Umanotero, www.umanotero.org.

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The Green Bike Tour is sponsored by The University of Iowa's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, The Iowa Policy Project, and The Fred & Charlotte Hubbell Foundation, and Kelly Webworks.