PMs united on energy future

  • 2009-04-29
  • By Adam Mullett

MAPPED OUT: The longtime Swedish power link spat seems to finally have been resolved as the three countries agreed on a Lithuanian landing point.

VILNIUS - A roadmap for the energy future of the Baltics, including the initiation of the common energy market, has been set up at a Vilnius meeting that included all three Baltic prime ministers.
Also, after years of infighting between Lithuania and Latvia over where the Swedlink cable will be grounded on the Baltic side, Lithuania has been confirmed as the country where it will land.

"It is clear that the landscape of the energy situation in Baltic States will change dramatically after the closure of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. From net exporters we will become net importers. Our region can even face a shortage of  electricity in wintertime. That's why we must unite our efforts and find common solutions," Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said after the April 27 meeting.
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said the creation of the common market was the most important part of the plan.

"I don't want to say that this nuclear plant is just a detail, but it is," he said about Lithuania's new nuclear power plant, which is still in the planning stage.
The Baltic prime ministers made the announcement in a press conference as they signed off on a joint declaration spelling out the region's energy plans for the future.
The declaration includes the removal of regulated tariffs on 35 percent of all energy sold in the three countries to facilitate the opening of the market, the removal of barriers stopping energy suppliers from selling their energy on the free market without losing government support and the ensurance that energy suppliers are independent.

It also provisions the speed up of Estlink-2 's the 635-megawatt undersea cable from Estonia to Finland 's and the plans to proceed on Swedlink.
Deputy head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Vilnius Eva Nilsson told TBT that Sweden welcomes the news.
"We are happy that there is an agreement among the Baltic countries. It's most important that there is an agreement on the common market 's we are welcoming this announcement from the prime ministers," she said.

Kubilius said that the decision to make a united market would benefit consumers.
"An open and transparent common Baltic electricity market based on the Nordpool model would allow us to increase reliability of electricity supply as well as to enhance competition. And this in turn would be the impetus for energy companies to increase efficiency of their activities thus minimizing the costs. At the same time it would create the possibilities for consumers to choose the supplier under the best conditions," he said.

Swedlink is now expected to be completed in 2016, said Mikael Odenberg, the Director General of Swedish power company Svenska Kraftnat. The Lithuanian Ministry of Energy confirmed the estimate.

Ansip said the link will be a Baltic solution and that Sweden cannot be expected to take charge.
"The key issue in our region 's this is a common electricity market. The Swedish taxpayers are not ready to build a connector that would improve energy security in our region. They want to create a business: they want to be sure that they will be able to purchase electricity from our market and sell in our market. It is clear that the overall market is a crucial thing," Ansip said.
The Lithuanian minister of energy has again reiterated that the link is not to Lithuania, but to the united energy grid.

"This is a link between the Baltic and Nordic markets 's it's not about the country, but about the cost and the time. It's a good step to connection and joining to Nordic and European markets," Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas told TBT.
The exact landing place of the cable has not yet been decided, the minister said.


After recent confusion over which countries are interested, all three prime ministers restated their interest in the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania, but said that it has been proceeding too slowly.
"We are also not satisfied with the project progress until this year, therefore, have taken initiative to accelerate. To set up the energy ministry and approve the action plan," Kubilius said.
"The government sees that it is necessary to build a new nuclear power plant not only in Lithuania, but also the entire region. This is our strategic approach," Kubilius said.

Ansip highlighted that his country still wants to participate in the construction of a new power plant in Lithuania, but is not satisfied with the project.
"We expected more, but now we have only the environmental impact assessment. We expected more. We need speed. We in Estonia are already in a huge hurry. We want to move. We are still interested, but really hope that the development speed will be higher than the previous year," Ansip said.