Statement Regarding Infrastructure Projects Important for Synchronization of the Electricity Network with Europe

Date

2018 06 12

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Upon the emergence of misleading interpretations regarding reconstruction of the North-East Lithuanian (hereinafter – N-EL) transmission network, the Ministry of Energy confirms once again, that the purpose of this project is synchronization of the electricity network with the grid of Western Europe. This project will reduce electric power transmission capacities with Belarus and will prevent the flow of electricity from the unsafe Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the future. It will also make it possible to prepare for the effective disconnection of lines with Belarus, in switching to synchronous operation with the Western power system.

The key objective of the reconstruction of the N-EL transmission network being implemented by transmission system operator Litgrid is to adapt the existing infrastructure for synchronization with the continental European network.

“The N-EL reconstruction is for synchronization with Europe, and it is the first real infrastructure project in reducing our dependence on the Eastern power system. This dependence will be eliminated for good once the synchronization project is implemented. It is strange that various contrary interpretations are emerging, and even speculations that are harmful to the synchronization project. I solemnly declare that synchronization is too important and complicated as a project for us to involve in to cheap and irresponsible politics. I have no doubt that the people who are speculating know perfectly well that synchronization is not as primitive as just cutting off electricity cables at the Belarusian border. In order to do it, we have to perform complex and necessary reconstruction jobs throughout the entire system, one of the most important of which being reconstruction of the N-EL network. We have finally begun real work, even though this was already possible in 2010,” says Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas.

In implementing the N-EL reconstruction project, two 330 kV transformer substations in Ignalina and Utena will be reconstructed, and a 330 kV controlled shunt reactor will be moved from the Ignalina substation to the 330 kV switchyard in Elektrėnai. As part of the project, a 750 kV high-voltage line connecting the Ignalina NPP substation to Belarus will also be dismantled.

By disconnecting this most powerful power transmission line with Belarus, electric power transmission capacities will be significantly reduced, meaning less possibilities for electricity produced at the Astravets NPP to access both the Lithuanian market and that of the entire EU.

The other two N-EL 330 kV transmission lines between Lithuania and Belarus are being prepared for disconnection after transition to the synchronous mode of operation with the grid of Continental Europe. Until then, these two lines are necessary to ensure system reliability. Within the scope of the project, no new power transmission lines will be built to the East.

The high-power installation mentioned in the project description is related to the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project, which, though still formally referred to in Lithuanian legislation, is no longer being developed and is not included in the updated National Energy Independence Strategy. Therefore, in contrast to attempted speculation, reconstruction of the N-EL network does not imply any preparation for the integration of the Astravets NPP into our system and does not open any transit routes for electricity produced at this nuclear power plant that poses a threat to national security.

We would like to draw attention to the fact that there are no legal or technical possibilities to integrate a high-power installation located within the territory of another country into the Lithuanian power system.

Moreover, no converter stations will be built in the reconstruction of the N-EL transmission network. New converter stations would only be needed for electricity trade purposes, but Lithuania is not planning any electricity trade with third countries after synchronization. Any other decisions on the construction of converter stations can only be made upon agreement of the Baltic States together with the European Commission, and only if it was unavoidable for technical reasons (system operation purposes) as a condition for the implementation of the synchronization project.

The N-EL reconstruction project is fully in line with the goals of the Government resolution on the necessary measures for precautions against the Astravets NPP.

The Government is also implementing other measures in order to deteriorate Astravets NPP project development in current site, which is in e very close vicinity to Lithuanian capital Vilnius. For example, a couple months ago, it was lawfully established that the reserve capacity of the Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant (PSP) cannot be used for the needs of the Astravets NPP in the event of operation of this NPP.

“If as much had been done in the name of synchronization over the past decade as in the past year and a half, then today we would only be talking about the Astravets NPP and other energy threats from the East in the past tense. Unfortunately, we are only moving from resounding political statements to real work now, and the N-EL reconstruction is the best proof. Moreover, this Government has managed to ensure that there will finally be no disputes in the region that the fastest and safest synchronization is through Poland. We finally have full support from Poland, without which synchronization would simply not be possible. And we have finally secured not only political, but also financial support for this project from the European Commission,” says Minister Vaičiūnas.

According to the minister, concrete synchronization jobs are finally provided for like never before in the updated draft National Energy Strategy, which will be discussed at plenary sessions of the Seimas in the coming days.

“The regional political agreement that is planned to be signed in the near future only illustrates once again that this project is in “danger” of success. Because for political opponents, such a success is undoubtedly dangerous, since it would show that this Government turned the project from an illusion into reality, which was a mission impossible for previous governments,” says the Minister of Energy.

 The ten-year transmission network development plan published by Litgrid states that synchronisation with the grid of Continental Europe is a key strategic priority and a means of ensuring long-term system reliability. The ten-year transmission network development plan for the Lithuanian electricity transmission network is prepared and updated every year and includes all significant changes related to electricity generation and transmission infrastructure facilities. Along with reconstruction of the N-EL network, other projects that are of importance for synchronisation are also being implemented, such as construction of the LPP–Vilnius2, KPSP–Alytus, and Pagėgiai–Bitėnai overhead power lines.

Reconstruction of the N-EL transmission network not only has strategic benefits – it has clear economic benefits as well. Reliability of electricity supply in the region will increase and network maintenance costs will decrease as well, which means over EUR 600,000 in savings annually.