An agreement has been made towards building a new nuclear power plant in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania. The proposed site is virtually on top of the border with Lithuania.
|The flag of the Kaliningrad region
The plan is seen as a rival to the scheme led by Lithuania to replace nuclear capacity lost with the shutdown of the Soviet-era Ignalina plant, closed in order for that country to accede to the European Union.
The Rosatom Corporation made a deal with the government of Kaliningrad yesterday to enable Rosatom to begin planning for the construction of two 1150 MWe nuclear power reactors at a cost of "almost €5 billion (about $8 billion)."
Rosatom stated that the project would be "implemented jointly by Russian and European structures." Nuclear.Ru reported that the non-Russian share of the project could amount to 49%, although a controlling stake would have to be retained by the Russian state according to law.
Rosatom director general and architect of the new Russian nuclear industry, Sergei Kiriyekno, told Duma (lower house) members for the Kaliningrad region that a site has been chosen in Neman District and that the design of the two VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors would be the same as that planned for Belene in Bulgaria.
The Kaliningrad proposal clearly relates to a separate plan centred on replacing the RBMK-1500 reactors at Ignalina, Lithuania. Neighbouring Estonia and Latvia are long-time partners in Ignalina, which supplied the entire region after a Soviet design.
Poland has taken part in negotiations to join, and its involvement would necessitate the construction of more than one large reactor and a 'power bridge' grid connection. However, a new Polish administration that took power at the end of 2007 has shown less enthusiasm for the project than its predecessor, and an expansion to two new units would requrie a new environmental impact assessment.
Kaliningrad is a special economic zone geographically separated from the rest of Russia with a population of just 430,000, while the town of Neman is about 120 km east of the city of Kaliningrad - virtually on top of the border with Lithuania. Kiriyenko said, "The plant will fully meet regional electricity needs; moreover, there will be an export potential," according to Nuclear.Ru.