Nuclear Politics

Lithuania / Vilnius Has Turned To Electricity Imports Since Ignalina Nuclear Station Closed, Says IEA

By David Dalton
28 April 2021

Vilnius Has Turned To Electricity Imports Since Ignalina Nuclear Station Closed, Says IEA
The shut-down Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithuania. Courtesy EBRD.
The Ignalina nuclear power station was once the pillar of Lithuania’s energy supply, but since it closed Lithuania has been importing electricity from Belarus, Latvia, Russia and Sweden with imports covering around 70% of its electricity supply in 2019, a report by the International Energy Agency says.

Lithuania was an exporter of electricity to Belarus, Latvia and Russia during the 1990s. But it started importing electricity from Russia in 2011 (2.3 TWh), and from Latvia in 2010 (2.8 TWh). In 2018, imports reached 3.3 TWh for Latvia and 2.8 TWh for Russia.

Ignalina consisted of two Soviet-designed RBMK reactors of 1,185 MW each. Units 1 and 2 came online in December 1983 and August 1987 respectively, but were shut down in 2004 and 2009 following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and as part of the accession process to the European Union.

A third reactor was planned and construction started in 1985, but it was suspended and demolished in 1989.

The IEA said safe decommissioning by 2038 is a priority for the government. The EU has financed decommissioning with €820.

Lithuania discussed options for building a new nuclear power plant close to Visaginas. However, the project was cancelled following the 2012 referendum, showing the electorate’s opposition at 62.7%.

The development of nuclear power in Belarus close to Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, without consultation with the Baltic countries, has raised concerns, the IEA said. Baltic states collectively opposed the construction and commissioning of the two-unit Belarus nuclear station. Lithuania and neighbouring couuntries stopped imports from Belarus in November 2020.

The start of the first Belarusian unit was postponed from March 2021 in the light of the safety concerns raised by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (Ensreg).

According to the IEA, Lithuania has strengthened its energy policies over recent years. Electricity market reforms are underway and Lithuania – along with its Baltic neighbours Latvia and Estonia – is integrating its power system into Continental Europe’s.

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