Green Bike Tour Slovenia 2010: a few concluding thoughts

Our crew was quite impressed with energy efforts in Slovenia.

It’s now time to park our bikes and take off our helmets as our trip comes to a close.

But before I fully return to reality, I’d like to reflect one last time on our experience.

Our tour provided us a great opportunity to learn how one small country is working to reduce its consumption of energy, develop renewable energy and address climate change in Europe. After its European Union acceptance in 2004, Slovenia began developing a plan to reduce its carbon emissions. From all we witnessed on the tour, it’s clear that Slovenians are taking some serious positive steps toward their goal.

As I noted in earlier posts, Slovenians are focused on developing a solar power industry. And as we pedaled through the country’s streets , we saw a couple hydro power plants and solar collectors on many homes, businesses and public buildings.

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An innovative source of power

After a light breakfast on Friday, we rode out of Most na Soci to began our final day of bike riding and our return to Nova Gorica. Our final stop on this trip was a visit to the Avce Pumped Storage Power plant.

There, we were met by Gregor Koron, an electrical supervisor at the plant for our tour. We learned that this two year old facility generates 185 megawatts of power on the Soca River.

During the evening hours, when power demands are low, the plant pumps water up to the top of the mountain in to what looks like a huge swimming pool.  And as demand for power increases during the day, water is send back down the mountain through an underground tube to the turbine below.

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Green Bike Tour Live Update: FRIDAY – 10:00 am

University of Iowa students and employees can catch the Green Bike Tour live at 10 am tomorrow on the Elluminate Live. We will discuss what we have learned and interact with participants. We really hope to hear from you!

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Bicycling for transportation, human and environmental health

A key and convenient discovery our group has made: bicycles reign as king in the daily Slovene commute.

One major difference between Slovenia and Iowa is the number of people, young and old, using bikes as primary modes of transportation.  Over the course of a normal day, our group has seen hundreds of people pedaling through their daily grind.

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Educating the Next Generation

solar cells at school

A distant view of the solar array at Naklo Secondary School Biotechnical Center

I woke up to another sunny day and decided to take another ride around Lake Bled with John – it’s hard to think of a better way to start the day. Back at the hostel, I had a light breakfast of coffee, a cheese sandwich and corn flakes.  And after pumping up our tires and slapping on some sun screen, we hit the road to Strahiji, home of Naklo Secondary School Biotechnical Center.

We rode about 25 km along some great roads and trails, some gravel and dirt. We had a couple of steep climbs, but as the week as progressed, those have become easier!

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Slovenia’s Energy Plan

Here, we gathered with Jernej Stritih, director of Slovenia's office for climate change.

Our Tuesday was dominated by meetings and some more riding.

We began the day packing for our exit from Ljubljana. After breakfast at the youth hostel’s outdoor café we pedaled to the Slovenian Office of Climate Change. There we met with the office director Jernej Stritih.

Interestingly, Stritih told us he had visited Iowa in the early 1990’s. There, he met with Stanely Consultants of Muscatine to discuss an infrastructure project that he was involved with in Slovenia. This was back when he worked in the private sector.

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Planning for Progress in Slovenia


Iowa relies primarily on wind power for its renewable energy production while Slovenians get much of their power from hydrogen. And while Iowans get 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources to Slovenia's 15 percent, contrary to our European counterpart, we have no stated long term goal to improve.

John and I started the day with an early morning walk around Ljubljana‘s central downtown district. As shops began to open, more and more people were riding by on bikes, heading in to start the week. We perched ourselves at an outdoor café for a cup of coffee and a croissant.

Exchanging knowledge, progress reports

Our first appointment today was at 9:00 am at the Jozef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana. There we met with Stane Merse, central head of the institute, and Ales Podgornil, project manager, to discuss their work in the creation of a national Action Plan for Renewable Energy, which aims to achieve 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. Right now, Slovenia gets about 15 percent of its energy from renewable resources,  most of it from hydro plants.

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