Russia and Belarus will have nuclear power plants close to Lithuania

Friday, September 26, 2008

Russia and Belarus will both have nuclear power plants close to Lithuania by the time Ignalina nuclear power plant has a replacement, The Baltic Times quotes the president of the Lithuanian Industrialists’ Confederation and the majority owner of Achema Group, Bronislavas Lubys.

Lubys said that he is certain that before Lithuania builds its planned new nuclear power plant, Russia and Belarus will construct two new atomic power stations in the region.

"I am absolutely sure about this," Lubys said in a recent interview for the magazine Veidas.

Rymantas Juozaitis, CEO of Lithuania’s national electricity company LEO LT, said that he does not see negative impact of the emergence of two new plants close to the Lithuanian border on Lithuania's energy industry.

"Nuclear power stations currently account for almost 40% of the EU’s electrical energy generation. If we have three nuclear power plants in the region, power electricity generation by atomic power plants in the region will account only for 30%. We have to replace old, non-efficient power plants. We do not see any problems here," Juozaitis said.

Whether or not Lithuania will have a new nuclear power facility will depend on whether the country’s politicians have the will to build it, Lubys said.

"This political will [depends] on the next Seimas and the next government, or even on their successors. The current government has stated its position: it is in favor of a new nuclear power plant," he said.

Bloomberg reported that Lithuania is in talks with four nuclear-reactor producers for the construction of a new atomic plant to replace the Soviet-era Ignalina plant.

Saulius Specius, a board member at LEO LT, which plans to build the atomic plant, said Lithuania would choose a reactor made by Westinghouse, Areva SA, General Electric or Atomic Energy of Canada Limited for its new Visaginas nuclear power plant.

The nuclear power plant in eastern Lithuania will have a maximum capacity of 3,400 megawatts and is scheduled to start operations between 2016 and 2018. Lithuania, which is building the plant along with neighbors Latvia, Estonia and Poland, is seeking output of 1,300 megawatts from the plant.

The capacity of the plant may be downgraded by its completion date due to uncertainty about power needs at that time.

Lithuania is currently in talks with Sweden and Poland to create a Baltic energy network. Neither link would be ready before 2012. Lithuania will close its Soviet-era reactor at the end of 2009. The new plant will help diversify the region’s energy sources and reduce dependence on Russia.

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