Overwhelming support given for nuclear plant

  • 2012-05-30
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS - Lithuania’s parliament has approved the building of the projected Visaginas nuclear power plant (NPP) and the concession agreement with the Japanese company Hitachi, reports ELTA. A total of 63 MPs were in favor of the draft amendments to the Law on the Nuclear Power Plant, 11 voted against with 33 abstentions. Applause followed the MP’s decision.

The Social Democrats opposed the Visaginas NPP project most of all in the May 17 vote.
Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said that the new plant will secure Lithuania’s energy independence, attract the biggest investment in Lithuanian history, create jobs and increase the country’s GDP by over 30 billion litas (9 billion euros).

It has been estimated that the Visaginas NPP project’s value amounts to 17 billion litas. Lithuania’s share in it will be 6 billion litas. It is planned to start building the plant in 2015, and launch it in 2020-2021.
In December, Poland withdrew from the project. Currently, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the strategic investor Japanese company Hitachi are members of the project.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said that a law package on energy that was sent to the Seimas on May 17 is very important. “The projects are important, preparations of which took much time. [These] concern a nuclear power plant as well as a liquefied natural gas terminal and synchronization of electricity systems. We are consistently following a path of changes which aim at Lithuania’s energy system to be competitive, become integrated into European systems and where our consumers receive the safest and most beneficial energy services,” Kubilius said.
The business plan for the Visaginas nuclear plant was also presented to the public. Extensive information about the commercial viability of the project, the analysis of return of Lithuanian investments in the project was presented in the plan.

Deputy Minister of Energy Zygimantas Vaiciunas said that, among the European countries, Lithuania is the most dependent on imports from third countries, as we import over 70 percent of our consumed electric power.
“After choosing Japanese Hitachi as a strategic investor in the Visaginas NPP, there has emerged an opportunity to receive some loans from Japanese and American export credit agencies for longer terms than suggested by commercial banks. It could increase the Lithuanian investments’ returns,” said Director General of the Visagnas NPP Rimantas Vaitkus.

Furthermore, the NPP project will be a great inducement to local enterprise and the economy in general, he said.
It has been estimated that direct investments by the strategic investor and regional partners to the project will stand at 10-14 billion litas. Businesses could create jobs worth 5.2 billion litas. Due to construction work on the plant, around 6,000 new jobs will be created.

Vaitkus said the plant will be very important in order for the Baltic States to get involved in transparent European energy markets and will be essential for synchronizing work in the continental European networks.
The Estonian power utility Eesti Energia sees the Visaginas nuclear power plant project as an opportunity to include stable capacity in its portfolio, Eesti Energia board member Margus Rink said in an interview with Nozare.lv.
Rink explained that oil shale plants currently produce the largest share of Estonia’s electricity. Eesti Energia’s strategy is to diversify its portfolio, since the old production blocks in Narva must be shut down step by step.