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Lithuania to build Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant

With the Baltic states looking to diversify energy security from Russia, the construction of the long planned Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania appears increasingly likely. 

Soviet history left the Baltic States highly dependent on Russia for its energy needs.

Lithuania itself had nuclear power from 1983 at the Ignalina Power Plant, however in 1999 the country agreed to close it down as part of European Union Accession. Many elements of the plant were deemed unsafe at the time.

It was formally closed on 31st December 2009 at a cost of €820 million.

Discussions regarding the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant began in the 1990s. An agreement with Latvia and Estonia has been made to share construction costs for Visaginas, that is to be built on the same site as Ignalina near the Belorussian border.

However construction of the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant was dropped in 2012, when a non binding referendum in Lithuania was held with 63% of the public voting against the project.

Changing Political Climate

 

The project has been given traction again this year with the issue of energy security becoming ever more important. Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Loreta Grauziniene has said that talks would now reach a political level between Baltic leaders.

The project has an estimated cost of up to €6.5 billion and construction will not be completed until 2020 at the earliest.

Japanese firm Hitachi was signed up as the strategic investor in 2011 and will build the plant, taking a 20% stake. Lithiania would receive the larger 38% stake with Estonia taking 22%, and Latvia the remaining 20%.

The Ignalina plant used to provide 70% of Lithuania’s energy needs however since its closure, the country now has to import 60% of its energy.

The resurrection of the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant comes on the back of Lithuania recently taking delivery of it’s own offshore Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminal. This gave the country gas diversification in the form of access to the global LNG spot market.

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