Visit of the Minister of Energy in Tokyo: renewable energy, closure of Ignalina NPP and energy security


2018 09 21


On 18–20 September, Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas visited Tokyo (Japan), where he met representatives of the Government and ministers and heads of the largest energy corporations to discuss possibilities and prospects for cooperation in energy sector.

At the meeting with State Minister for the Environment Tadahiko Ito and State Minister for Economy, trade and Industry Yoji Muto, the Minister of Energy introduced the latest energy strategy of Lithuania approved this summer, renewable energy development plans, renewable energy auctions to be held next year.

The process of the closure of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was thoroughly introduced at the meetings. The Minister noted that the project with over thirty companies from almost ten European Union Member States participating in it opens possibilities for Japanese energy companies as well.
'The most complicated stage of Ignalina NPP closure will start in the nearest future, during which Japanese experience and technologies could be used. Besides, the decommissioning project in Lithuania could become a gateway for Japanese companies to the entire EU market, where tens of nuclear power plants will be closed in the nearest decades. It is potential space for our cooperation benefits of which would definitely be long-lasting. While, the interest of Lithuania is to secure the largest competition possible at the tenders for Ignalina NPP closure – it would ensure not only top quality of the closure project but also more effective use of the funds assigned for shutdown of operation', said  Vaičiūnas.

Matters related to Ostrovyets NPP were also discussed with the Japanese representatives highly concerned about nuclear safety. The Minister noted that casual and irresponsible approach of Ostrovyets NPP builders demonstrated from the very beginning of the project, starting from selection of the location and finishing with nuclear safety culture, is detrimental to the reputation of the entire nuclear power energy at the global scale.

Representatives of the institutions of Japan, which plays an active role in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made a promise to continue actively and loudly voicing the issues of nuclear safety strengthening at international level, in particular when assessing the threat represented by Ostrovyets NPP.

Expanding renewable energy sector is creating new prospects for Japanese investments and technologies, and Japan is showing growing interest in it. During the visit in Japan, the Minister met the heads of large energy corporations – Toshiba and Hitachi, who expressed their interest in the possibilities for cooperation in the field of energy. Not only Lithuania, but also countries of other regions start talking about joint green energy projects, e.g. offshore wind farms. 

The Minister also introduced the project of synchronisation of the Baltic electricity system and its recent progress. This project can serve as an example of the use of adapted advanced and smart Japanese energy technologies.

Possibilities and prospects for the use of energy storage equipment were also discussed. In particular, as the Eastern and Central European markets are growing more familiar to Japanese companies. For example, at present Toshiba is actively working with the Ukraine, where it plans to install its energy solutions.

During his visit in Japan, the Minister introduced potential directions of cooperation between Lithuania and Japan and the threat represented by Ostrovyets NPP to the journalists of the largest Japanese dailies.

Lithuania is exerting active efforts to strengthen economic relations with the Japanese market of nearly 130 million consumers not only in the fields of energy but also in transport, medicine, agriculture, and other fields.