Lithuania has officially begun its search for strategic investors to construct and operate a new nuclear power plant in the country to replace the Ignalina plant, which is due to shut down by the end of the month. The country's president has visited the Ignalina plant to discuss its closure.
|Where's the 'off' switch?: President Grybauskaite visits the Ignalina plant (Image: www.president.lt)
The Lithuanian government has published a notice of public work concession in the Official Journal of the European Union
seeking "an experienced investor or investors, which have a long experience in developing new electricity generation capacities and operating nuclear power plants." The deadline for submissions of proposals is 29 January 2010.
Lithuania has proposed building a new nuclear power plant to replace the Soviet-era Ignalina plant, with the participation of neighbouring Poland, Estonia and Latvia. The two-unit plant would be built at Visaginas, near Ignalina, at a cost of around €6.7 billion ($10 billion). The first of the reactors, of up to 1700 MWe each, could come on line in 2018.
The investor would get a majority stake in the proposed new plant, alongside Lithuanian state-owned utility Lietuvos Energija, together with project partners Latvenergo of Latvia, Eesti Energia of Estonia and Poland's Polska Grupa Energetyczna.
The notice said that "the new nuclear power plant project has become a very important goal of the Lithuania government's policy."
The publication of the tender notice coincided with a visit by Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite to the Ignalina plant, whose closure was a condition of the country's accession to the EU. The EU has agreed to pay decommissioning costs for the two RBMK reactors and some compensation through to 2013. Unit 1 of the Ignalina plant was shut at the end of 2004, while unit 2 is to be shut down by the end of 2009.
Grybauskaite discussed the shutdown and decommissioning of Ignalina with the plant's management and workers. She also talked about measures to address the social consequences of the plant's closure, as well as the new plant construction project.
With the closure of the Ignalina plant, Grybauskaite said, "Life in will not stop in Visaginas, or in Lithuania." She added, "Pending the construction of a new nuclear power plant, the state must find not only an alternative to nuclear energy, but also to enable municipalities of the most beautiful highland - Zarasai, Visaginas and Ignalina - to find and develop new activities. Human life in the Ignalina region cannot be dependent on one company."