18:54 12.09.2017

Lithuania considers synchronizing with EU grid without Latvia, Estonia

Lithuania considers synchronizing with EU grid without Latvia, Estonia

Lithuania may decide to implement a key energy project for the Baltic States - synchronization of electricity grids with the rest of the EU - on its own, BNS reported.

While discussing the synchronization issue during a visit to Poland last week, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis unexpectedly announced that an agreement would be signed with Poland in the near future. Virgilijus Poderys, the chairman of the Energy Commission in the Seimas, has also called for enacting "plan B."

"Events are unfolding in such a way the time has come for Lithuania to prepare for 'plan B:' synchronization with European electricity grids independently, not tying ourselves to electricity grid plans in Latvia and Estonia," Poderys said.

Steps Russia is taking to prepare for synchronization of the Baltic States with the rest of the EU are the motivating factor, they said.

According to European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), Russia is building a new electrical transmission line along the border with Estonia and along the border with Belarus, in order to strengthen its electrical transmission system. In addition, Belarus is buildingEU an electrical transmission line from the Belarusian nuclear power plant now under construction. The electricity independence of the Kaliningrad region is being provided by construction of new thermal power plants there.

"Russia today is preparing for our synchronization and preparing to work in a closed regime and is doing everything to shore up BRELL [the Belarus-Russia-Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania electricity ring] without us. I would not be very surprised if, in a few years, instead of us doing the unplugging, we are the ones who get unplugged," opposition lawmaker Dainius Kreivys, who is a member of the Energy Commission, told the BNS.

The head of Lithuanian electricity grid operator Litgrid, Rimvydas Stilinis, said the idea of Lithuania going it alone has not previously been examined and whether it is technically possible would be studied in order to be ready if the political decision is made.

If Lithuania decides to carry out the project, it would have to install so-called converters at the border with Latvia, in order to maintain linkage with grids operating in various synchronization regimes.

In May 2017, the Baltic States and Poland reached preliminary agreement on synchronization of the grids in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with the rest of the EU via Poland, on the already existing LitPol Link. They did not rule out construction of new links.

However, at the beginning of September, differences over the project emerged among the countries.

Estonia said it could not agree to synchronize electricity grids over the unreliable and expensive option of a single link and could not support the agreement between Lithuania and Poland. Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Minister Kadri Simson said at least two Lithuania-Poland links are essential for system reliability.

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis also maintains that a second LitPol link is needed for synchronization to take place.

A report prepared by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre says that the optimal variant for synchronization is via two LitPol Links: in that case, spending on synchronization might total 770 million-960 million euro compared with a cost given one link of 900 million euro.

The electricity grids of Russia, Belarus and the Baltic States are currently united by the BRELL electricity ring.

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