Lithuania – Sweden ‘Let’s get connected!’
The Swedish Vice-PM Mrs. Olofsson visited Lithuania on 5-6 February. The visit has attracted a wide Lithuanian media attention. The reason for this attention was that the visit took place in the heated debates on the energy issues background. The Law of the establishment of the National Investor the LEO LT passed the parliament few days before, there is an intensive debate about prolonging of the Ignalina Power Plant life span and a debate what will happen when (if) the plant will terminate its electricity production at the end of 2009. Only a thought that the Ignalina provides 75% of all electricity in Lithuania and that Lithuania still has no electrical connections to the West raises the temperature in Lithuanian political scene. Not to mention that the elections to Seimas will take place in October.In addition another important event took only a day before the Vice-PM’s visit. Lithuanian Lietuvos Energija and its Swedish counterpart, Svenska Kraftnat, completed a feasibility study on linking the energy systems of the two countries. The heads of the two companies signed in Stockholm a memorandum stating their intentions to continue cooperation on the project on February 5.
The Lietuvos Energija CEO Rymantas Juozaitis said in a statement: “We highly appreciate this effective and mutually beneficial cooperation between Lithuanian and Swedish energy experts. The goals set for the study have been fully achieved. We have agreed with Svenska Kraftnat to continue discussions on project implementation issues.”
He also stated that that both Lithuania and Sweden viewed the project as a good opportunity to connect their electricity markets and to create the conditions for the Baltic countries’ integration into the EU’s energy market. The BNS reminded that the power connection would also help deal with issues of system reliability, safe electricity supplies and diversification of energy sources.
The study evaluated the possibility of linking the electricity grids of the two countries via a 350-kilometer cable under the Baltic Sea. If it were decided to build wind turbines and hook them up to the underwater cable, it would require a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.
Lietuvos Energija reminded that a 1,000 MW power link would allow the two countries not only to link their energy systems, but also to develop renewable electricity generation. The results of the study showed that the power link project would be feasible and economically viable and that it could be implemented by 2015.
After Mrs. Olofsson’s meeting with the President the Palace press office issued a statement, which also said that “Amid the upcoming decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, the project carries not only a commercial but also strategic importance to entire region and Lithuania.”
The energy link was discussed also in the meetings with the Lithuanian PM and the Minister of the Economy.
However, Mrs Olofsson had to explain the Lithuanian politicians that Stockholm perceives the construction of the electrical grid only as a commercial project. During the press conference she had to remind the Lithuanian media that the Swedish Government cannot decide for the Svenska Kraftnat what to do, this is a project between Lietuvos Energija and the Svenska Kraftnat.
The Lithuanian side sees this project as a strategic necessity and received some news about the SwedLit with a dose of scepticism. The crux of the matter is that the Lithuanian politicians wrongly convinced the Lithuanian media and the public that the SwedLit will be built by 2012. This date is even written in the National Energy strategy.
However, the cautious Swedes informed that Lithuanian side that the date of the grid’s completion could be 2015. The Lithuanian media, which likes to hear what it wants to hear, exclaimed that the SwedLit will be completed only by 2015. However, it sounds that the Vice-PM meant 2015 is the latest date of completion. However, the biggest question ‘IF’ is replaced by ‘WHEN’.
The Nord Stream was also discussed. The President’s press office stated that “Lithuania is particularly alarmed over the impact of the Baltic pipeline to the ecology of the Baltic Sea, therefore, we cannot come up with argumentation why the Amber Pipe project was not planned via the Baltics of territories of other EU members.”Furthermore, the press office informed that Mrs. Olofsson underscored that all matters relating to the ecology of the Baltic Sea required professional analysis and assessment. In her words, Sweden and its companies are willing to share their technological experience in generating energy from renewable sources and reduction of climate pollution.
Hence, the Swedish-Lithuanian energy cooperation is getting a shape and is intensifying, better later that never. ‘Let’s get connected!’