Latvia invited to join power cable project

  • 2007-08-01
  • Staff and wire reports
VILNIUS - Latvia has been invited to join in the project to connect Lithuania's and Sweden's energy grids via a 350-kilometer, 700 - 1,000 megawatt underwater power cable stretching across the Baltic Sea floor. "Latvia should be able to use this cable. Our energy grids are well integrated and interconnected by four high-voltage lines," said Lithuania's Economy Minister Vytas Navickas after his July 25 meeting with Latvian counterpart Jurijs Strods.

Lithuania's state-run power utility Lietuvos Energija, Sweden's energy transmission system operator Svenska Kraftnat and Sweden's SWECO International on Feb. 6 signed an agreement for a feasibility study, costing 296,600 euros, on the interconnection of energy grids of both countries. The feasibility study should be completed by Nov. 1, said Navickas. Preliminary estimates put the cost of the cable project at up to 400 million euros, and predict it could be ready for use in 2012.
The Baltic states are rapidly reorienting their energy supply activities toward the West, away from Russia, in a move for greater security and reliability.

Strods underlined the position that Latvia saw the planned new nuclear power plant at Ignalina, Lithuania, not only as a commercial project but also as an opportunity to increase its energy independence. The project is expected to involve Poland and the three Baltic states. The first reactor of the new plant could go online in 2015 and will have a total capacity of around 3,200 megawatts, though this number will only be finalized once the results of the feasibility study and environmental requirements are taken into account.

"The percentage share [of electricity] is not a question of principle for us at the moment. We want a certain amount of electrical power, but we will see after the feasibility study is completed and then continue our talks as to what percentage we get, how much we contribute and what amount of energy we receive," Strods said, adding that Latvia would need around 500 megawatts of electricity.
The share ownership structure of the four negotiating countries has still to be decided as well.

Latvia, an energy importing country, is already part-owner and beneficiary of the Estlink 350 megawatt power cable linking Finland and Estonia, inaugurated in Dec. 2006. Built at a cost of 110 million euros, the project adds to energy market competition, efficiency, and reliability in the region.