New NPP in Lithuania will not cover demands for energy in all Baltic countries – Estonian expert

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Andres Mäe, researcher of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, Estonia, answered questions about prospects of energy security and nuclear industry of the Baltic region.
Estonia is taking part in a nuclear power plant construction project in Lithuania, so is nuclear generation considered to be a good and stable source of electricity?

The Estonian government has supported plans of the state-owned energy company (Eesti Energia) to participate in the new nuclear power plant in Lithuania, in order to use electricity produced there to cover some of Estonia’s energy demand in the future.

Estonia has not yet adopted any official position on the development of nuclear energy. Still, individual members of the parliament and the government and scientists have recommended taking into consideration building a nuclear power plant in Estonia.

Construction of a nuclear power plant usually takes much time. In terms of energy security of the region may the Baltic States and Estonia feel lack of electrical energy before the new NPP is constructed in Lithuania?

Yes, there will be a small deficit in electrical energy production in the Baltic states after the closure of the Ignalina NPP. Latvia is already importing one third of electricity from Estonia, Russia and Lithuania, it will have to find another source to replace Lithuania in 2010. Lithuania will cover part of its domestic consumption with Elektrenai thermal power plant working on natural gas but it will also have to start to import electricity from Russia and Belarus. Estonia will cover its base load consumption by itself and will import electricity from Latvia’s hydropower plants to cover its peak load demand as it does nowadays. Estonia has also an opportunity to import electricity from Scandinavia via underwater cable EstLink.

Do you think generation capacity of the new NPP will be enough to meet electricity needs of Estonia in particular and all the Baltic states or other sources of electricity will be needed in a long-term prospect?

The new nuclear power plant in Lithuania will not be able to cover the electrical energy demand of the Baltic states and main reason for that is participation of Poland in the same project. One NPP is simply not enough for all four participants. Yes, there is urgent need for additional power generating capacities in the Baltic states.

Speaking about energy security of the Baltic region, theoretically may the Baltic NPP in the Kaliningrad region also become a source of electricity for the Baltic States and Estonia?

The Baltic NPP in Kaliningrad Region is already planned to produce electrical energy for export to Poland and the Baltic states. The region itself is too small to consume the total amount of electricity produced at the NPP.

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Alexandra Prokopenko (not verified) Says:
Tue, 2008-11-25 22:06

The whole Baltic region is too small to keep 2 large NPPs (Kaliningrad and Visaginas), even for export purposes, considering also the planned Belarusian and Estonian NPPs. The electric grids are simply not ready for such a development, while the Baltic countries are still tied with Russia and rather isolated from Western Europe (except from Estonia with EstLink).
With large NPPs the one built first will occupy the entire market of the region leaving no place for the other. Kaliningrad has good chances here, since Visaginas seems to be slowed down because of numerous parties participating that cannot agree on final conditions and shares.