Out with the old, in with the new. In a bid to boost energy security, Lithuania wants two new nuclear reactors to be up and running within the next seven years.
The EU obliges the Ignalina power plant’s last Soviet-era units – considered unsafe by western standards – to be shut down less than three years from now.
The Baltic countries plus Poland are seeking to enhance their energy independence, jittery about Russian dominance of supply. But reducing reliance on fossil fuels – with environmental targets one factor – puts them in a bind.
A senior Lithuanian economy official, Deividas Matulionis, spoke to EuroNews: “Nuclear is the only commercial and feasable option with the CO2 emissions problem. Other options are more costly, therefore we have to see a renaissance of nuclear energy.”
The Baltic states have lost faith in the Druzhba Freindship pipeline, citing Russian disruptions of oil through it. They also see as hostile a German-Russian pipeline project because it by-passes their territories.
Talking to EuroNews, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus says there is no question the future is nuclear: “We want to be among the first ones to provide that kind of energy not only for the development of our own country but at the same time to share and sell that energy to our neighbours.”
60 percent of Poland’s energy needs are still met by coal! A fair chunk of its natural gas comes from Russia. Although some EU partners consider Warsaw’s stance towards Moscow over various meaty subjects as one of obstinacy, analyst Eugeniusz Smolar says the Poles are just talking common sense. He said: “After what happened stopping the flow of gas through Ukraine, and this year Belarus… that was a big eye-opener; This is not just a Polish so-called prejudice against Russia: There is no prejudice. We just have our security interests.”
Nuclear-generated electricity has strong public opposition in some EU countries. But EU states eager to narrow the economic gap with larger, richer and generally older members are less averse.
Current EU president Germany has a clash of ideas on its hands; At next week’s EU summit, it aims to propose binding targets for using renewable energy sources, as part of the 27-nation bloc’s long-term energy strategy.