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Estonia to become nuclear power?

Feb 22, 2008
Mike Collier in association with BNS

Estonia to become nuclear power?
NUCLEAR POWER? YES PLEASE! In fifteen years, Estonia could have its own nuclear power plant (Photo: Petr Pavlicek/IAEA)

TALLINN 's with progress on the proposed new Ignalina nuclear power plant proceeding at glacial pace, there are signs that Estonia is becoming increasingly frustrated.

As a result, talk in Tallinn has turned to the possibility of the country going it alone and building its own nuclear power plant.

Sandor Liive, chief executive of the state-owned power company Eesti Energia has aired the idea, reports the Baltic News Service.

Liive is quoted saying that that Eesti Energia will not rule out any potentially useful project. In his words, nuclear energy is not a goal in itself but represents the second-best option after renewable sources to provide carbon dioxide-free electricity to meet Estonia's ever-growing energy appetitie.

Liive admitted his company is on the lookout for a suitable location for a small nuclear plant in Estonia. "We are connected with a project and getting information about the development of a sub-400 megawatt nuclear reactor that should be available for commercial use in 2015," Liive said.

"This is a subject for public discussion, this is a topic for serious discussion, and through public discussion, through serious analysis, the right decisions are made," he said.

Responding to the news, Estonian Greens' leader Valdur Lahtvee said the future of the Estonian energy sector lies in diversified energy generation.

"All the distant heating boiler houses we have today must be converted into cogeneration plants. Dispersed production, besides being more efficient and environment-friendly, will remarkably raise the security and reliability of our energy supply which is extremely vulnerable at present precisely because of the high concentration of production," Lahtvee said.

The Ministry of Economy and Communications has started work on a development plan for the electricity sphere in the course of which the pros and cons of Estonia's own nuclear power plant will be examined.

The head of the ministry's energy department, Einari Kisel, says a nuclear power plant would ensure Estonia's long-term supply. "But getting there is of course a very long process that is going to take a minimum of 15 years," he said.

The town of Sillamae on the northern coast has been mentioned as a possible location for a nuclear power plant and granite deposits on Muuga Bay could be suitable for storage of spent nuclear waste.

Estonian government officials have also expressed interest in participation in future Finnish nuclear projects now that the two countries' power grids are connected.

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