Important energy sector issues discussed with the Vice President of the European Commission

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2017 05 30

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On the 24th of May the Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas met with the Vice President of the European Commission (EC) Maroš Šefčovič responsible for the European Energy Union. The meeting involved the discussion on the fundamental energy-sector issues of great importance for Lithuania and the entire region – synchronization of the Baltic States with the continental European electrical grid, long-term security of gas supply in the region, and the necessity to ensure further smooth financing of decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.

During the meeting the Minister indicated that an important agreement has already been reached between the Baltic States and Poland as well as that the link of power systems of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia with the continental European power systems shall take place via Poland. It is the most economically efficient and the fastest implemented scenario, which will enable the Baltic States to ensure the security and reliability of electricity supply as well as full integration in Europe’s electrical system.

“We are grateful to the EC for supporting the Baltic synchronization project and contributing to the acceleration of the essential political decision-making, which will give the green light for the actual start of this project. As the memorandum of understanding has already been signed in the end of June by and between the Baltic States and Poland, the first substantial practical step would be taken by the end of the year – the appeal to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity for the issuance of technical specifications”, – said the Minister of Energy.

The Minister emphasized that Lithuania is active in strengthening its domestic power grid required for synchronous operation with the European network. Together with Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania already prepares to test the isolated operation of Baltic power system, which is one of the central actions towards synchronization.

The meeting also involved the discussion of the issues of security of regional gas terminal and long-term gas supply. The Minister informed that the so-called LNG tour of prime ministers of the Baltic States takes place these months, during which the prime ministers visit the potential locations for LNG terminals in Estonia and Latvia as well as Klaipėda LNG FSRU terminal, which is now the only terminal of this kind operating in the Baltic States. It was noted during the meeting that the EC supports the idea of regional terminal and encourages the Baltic States to seek the economically most rational solution to ensure security of supply for the entire region.

The progress of decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and financing matters in a new EU budget after the Year 2020 were granted considerable attention at the meeting. The Minister was excited at close cooperation with the European Commission with the view of common goals of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant decommissioning program.  It was also noted that the decommissioning of Nuclear Power Plant takes place in due time and according to schedule and that approximately 40 percent of decommissioning works have already been completed. However, the adequate European funding is vital in order to ensure successful continuation of decommissioning process. The obligations of the EU relating to the support to the decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant are also established in the Treaty of Accession of Lithuania to the European Union. “It is vital for us that the EC realizes that this project is exceptional, long-term, and very complicated. Lithuania in its turn consistently increases its financial contribution to the decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and makes every effort to ensure smooth, quality, and transparent performance of works as well as the effective use of money. However, successful and safe decommissioning is impossible without the adequate European funding after the Year 2020”, – told Ž. Vaičiūnas.

During the meeting with the Vice-President of the European Commission the Minister of Energy consistently elevated the problems of the assurance of the international nuclear safety in the neighborhood of the EU and the unsafe construction of Astravyets nuclear power plant. Ž. Vaičiūnas informed about the actions taken by Lithuania at the national and regional level in order to hedge against the electricity generated in the unsafe nuclear facilities. It was noted that the unsafe Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant is the problem of safety of not only Lithuania and the region, but also of the entire Europe. Therefore, long-term measures must be taken against this apparently geopolitical project at the European level.