Lithuania is examining the bids for strategic investment in its planned new nuclear power plant. A majority stake could be available to a power firm able to realise the project.
Without revealing the bidders, the Lithuanian Ministry of Energy confirmed yesterday that it is starting to analyse the "binding proposals of strategic investors." At the same time "regional partners" have also submitted proposals for their participation.
The goal of the project is to construct a new nuclear power plant called Visaginas alongside the shut down Ignalina plant that formerly supplied about 70% of the country's power. With one or two large reactors and cooling from either a lake, cooling towers or a mixture of both, it could provide up to 3600 MWe, according to the environmental impact assessment.
While restoring nuclear as a major part of the regional energy mix, it should also vastly reduce the Baltic States' (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) reliance on Russia for energy supplies.
Earlier in the project, Lativa and Estonia were strong supporters and expected to take equal stakes with Lithuania. Poland became involved for a time but has since opted to begin its own nuclear power program instead. A holding company called Lithuanian Electricity Organization (LEO LT) was formed to manage these multiple interests but this was dissolved at the end of 2009 leaving Lithuania with the task of rebuilding a new team of investors. The project company for the development is Visaginas Atomic Energy (VAE).
In December 2009 a call was put out for "an experienced investor or investors, which have a long experience in developing new electricity generation capacities and operating nuclear power plants."
Yesterday the Ministry of Energy said a strategic investor will be selected by the end of this year with exclusive negotiations completed in 2011. Lithuanian interests are expected to retain 34% of Visaginas, with a potential majority stake for a major investor.
Meanwhile, two Russian-sponsored nuclear projects are maturing on Lithuania's borders. Belarus is preparing for a twin-VVER power plant immediately to the south, while construction of the Baltic plant is due in April 2011 in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad immediately to the west.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News