The First Year of the 18th Government: Takeaways in Energy

Date

2021 12 09

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“The year 2021 will undoubtedly go down in the history of Lithuanian energy as a turning point in the implementation of strategic projects to strengthen energy independence. This is also important in terms of national security, because energy is the last bastion we need to conquer on the road to achieving complete Lithuanian independence,” says Minister of Energy Dainius Kreivys, assessing his first year of work at the Ministry of Energy.

Firstly, according to the minister, considerable attention was devoted this year to one of the key points of the coalition agreement – blocking electricity flows from Astravets. “We followed through with our commitment not to buy unsafe electricity from Astravets by not allowing it to be traded on both the Lithuanian and Baltic markets,” he says. This ensured implementation of the anti-Astravets law and blockade of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant. Lithuania’s position remains firm – an unsafe nuclear power plant cannot be operated.

Secondly, the Lithuanian and Polish gas transmission systems were physically connected in 2021, thus preparing for full integration into the Western European gas market. Integration of the Lithuanian natural gas market into regional markets as part of a stronger energy infrastructure is among the priority projects of this Government. “For decades, the creation of gas flows between Lithuania and Poland has been the missing link in the overall picture of our energy infrastructure,” says Minister Kreivys. “More sources of gas supply give us more flexibility in ensuring the security and reliability of gas supply, and we will be able to respond more flexibly to price changes on world gas exchanges. The Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania will also provide more opportunities for the Klaipėda LNG terminal, and in the future it will be adapted for the transmission of green hydrogen.”

Once the Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) is operational, capacity will be created to transport up to 27 terawatt-hours (TWh) of natural gas per year to the Baltic States and up to 21 TWh per year to Poland, and the Baltic gas markets will become part of the single European energy market. The project is valued at approximately EUR 500 million. The total length of the gas pipeline that began to be constructed in 2020 is 508 km,

 with 165 km in the territory of Lithuania and 343 km in Poland. The GIPL is scheduled to start operating in the middle of next year.

Thirdly, tender procedures for the acquisition of a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) have been completed. This ensures an uninterrupted gas supply alternative and competitiveness in the gas market.

Fourthly, construction began this year on a 200 MW battery. This energy project, which is one of the most important in terms of national security, will help ensure the stability and reliability of the Lithuanian power system.

With the establishment of a special purpose company – Energy Cells – this past January, preparatory work for the project was carried out and funding was secured, with the European Commission approving up to EUR 100 million in support for the storage facility under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The project is valued at EUR 109 million. “The project will help us implement one of the most important tasks before synchronisation – the ability to operate in isolated mode. The equipment under construction will help ensure the stability and reliability of our power system in the event of disturbances. If we were to lose power throughout Lithuania, these batteries would immediately start supplying energy and renew energy supply,” says Minister Kreivys, emphasising that in the future, the batteries will allow more renewable energy sources to be connected to the energy system.

The battery is expected to be launched in December 2022.

Fifthly, last Saturday, 4 December 2021, in preparing for connection to the continental European network (CEN), an emergency support test was performed via LitPol Link, the power link between Lithuania and Poland, which was adapted for this purpose this year. “This is a historic test not only for energy independence, but also for national security. We have a tested synchronous connection, and our main electricity generation capacity is ready to work in the continental European system,” says Minister Kreivys. “This means that in an emergency, we can ensure uninterrupted operation of the country’s electric power system with the help of our Polish partners. This is another guarantee for the security of the Baltic power systems and a geopolitical turning point in preparation for the final connection of the Lithuanian electricity system to the continental European network in 2025.”

A few more critical tests are planned before synchronisation with continental European network. A test of Lithuania’s ability to work in isolated mode is scheduled for 2022, with a general isolated operation testing of the Baltic power systems planned later.

Photo ©Amber Grid. Minister Dainius Kreivys at GIPL construction site