The Lithuania Tribune/Tereza Holanová
Lithuania should not count on European support for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the country. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė advised not to expect any European funds during the visit of Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovič in Vilnius.
Grybauskaitė states that the nuclear power issues are not considered part of the common EU energy policy, but rather a matter of separate member states deciding whether to develop nuclear energy or not. “Europe has never funded any construction of a nuclear plant directly. There should be no dreams about such funding”, said Grybauskaitė.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius expressed the same opinion this week. The EU might contribute to creating feasibility studies or other safety-oriented projects, but there are no hopes it will pay for the construction itself.
Therefore, it is clear that the planned Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) will have to be funded from private and state sources. According to prior expectations, about half of all costs would be paid for by a strategic investor who would gain the majority 51 percent share in the NPP. Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Limited and Westinghouse Electric Company have so far submitted proposals for participating in the project.
The rest of expenditures required should be divided between state owned companies Lietuvos Energija, Latvenergo of Latvia, Eesti Energia of Estonia and Poland’s Polska Grupa Energetyczna.
The EU’s reserved stance regarding support for the construction of a new NPP may be reasonable in the light of recent events. Since the disaster in Japan nuclear energy has become a hot topic again, with debates on whether countries should continue to operate their existing NPPs and whether politicians should even support the construction of new ones. Many European countries have turned away from nuclear energy and decided to switch off their nuclear power plants, such as for instance Germany or Italy.
Lithuania, however, continues to focus on the nuclear industry, and Slovakian president Gasparovič approves this attitude. “We believe nuclear energy is the future of energy, and if we have any doubts on its safety, we should be improving standards”, mentioned Gasparovič, according to Baltic News Service.
Lithuania and Slovakia have much in common concerning the nuclear power sector. Like Lithuania, Slovakia had to shut down two reactors of the NPP in Jaslovské Bohunice before entering the EU. Both countries regard nuclear power an important source of energy which would enable them to diversify their supplies and gain more independence from electricity deliveries from abroad, especially from Russia.