Butkevičius negotiates on Visaginas

23 April 2013

Lithuania's optimal power mix would include nuclear along with a range of other sources, said new prime minister Algirdas Butkevičius, but the Visaginas project's economics are critical and need the buy-in of local partners.

The project should see a 1350 MWe ABWR unit built at the new Visaginas site, alongside the shut-down Ignalina nuclear power plant that formerly supplied about 70% of Lithuania's electricity.

A contract for this has been signed with Hitachi, which would supply the reactor and uniquely hold a 20% stake in the project. The remainder is held 38% by Lithuania, 22% by Estonia and 20% by Latvia. This contract has been approved by the Lithuanian parliament, but the final investment decision will wait until licensing is complete in the middle of 2015. In the meantime, Lithuania leads on negotiations with Hitachi under direction from Butkevičius, who took power late in 2012.

Today an announcement came from a meeting of the Lithuanian government's Strategic Committee. It said that sustainable development of the country's power sector and a reduction in energy imports relied on a wide variety of projects: grid connections across the Baltic Sea, incorporation into the Nord Pool Spot trading area, CHP developments, investments in renewables and gas - as well as nuclear energy.

Visaginas, said the committee, could only go ahead if "major commercial project indicators are improved" and arrangements with Latvia and Estonia are "legitimised through contractual terms." Development expenses need to be fairly distributed and financial costs minimised by the use of export credit support from Japan.

Butkevičius said the future of Visaginas would be discussed with Latvia and Estonia once their representatives have had full opportunity to examine the project's economics.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News