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Estonia to become nuclear power?

  • 2008-02-22
  • Mike Collier in association with BNS

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 nuclearpower plant proceeding at glacial pace, there are signs that Estonia isbecoming increasingly frustrated.

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

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

Liive is quoted saying that that Eesti Energia will not rule out anypotentially useful project. In his words, nuclear energy is not a goal initself but represents the second-best option after renewable sources to providecarbon dioxide-free electricity to meet Estonia's ever-growing energyappetitie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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