Issue No.8 Spring
(April 2005)


ENS News

ENS President's Contribution

Tapping Unusual Quarters

ENS Events

PIME 2005

RRFM 2005

ETRAP 2005

ENC 2005

Member Societies & Corporate Members

News from Poland

News from Lithuinia

Corporate communication

YGN Report

Young nuclear specialists in the new Europe

European Institutions

7th Framework Programme

News from Bulgaria

ENS World News

International Ministerial Conference in Paris

NEA Publication

NucNet News

ENS Members

Links to ENS Member Societies

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Editorial staff
RRFM 2005RRFM 2005

ETRAP 2005
23-25 November 2005 in Brussels




































































Jonas Gylys, Chairman of LNEA
Stanislovas Ziedelis, Secretary General of LNEA

Lithuania is a relatively small country with only 3.5 million inhabitants. At present, Lithuania is a state with powerful energy industry and low energy consumption. Up to end of 2004 our energy plants could produce three times more electricity than it is necessary for our internal needs. Installed electricity generating capacities were more than 6.2 GW. Since 1990 the total power demand decreased to less than 2GW and the total electricity consumption decreased to less than 8.3 TWh. At the same time, Lithuania has one of the last places in Europe according to electricity consumption per capita: in 2002 it was around 2900 kWh of electrical energy on average per capita. During the last few years the economy of Lithuania had been growing very fast: in 2002 gross national product grew up 6.8%, and in 2003 – 9.0%.

The energy sector of Lithuania is strongly based on the nuclear energy. From 60% to more than 86 % of electricity each year is produced by our single nuclear power plant – Ignalina NPP with its two RBMK-1500 type reactors (see Fig. 1). Comparing the share of nuclear in total energy production it becomes apparent, that Lithuania and France are the two countries in the world where this parameter is close to 80 percent. Comparison of the share of different kinds of primary energy sources used in Lithuania for different branches of economy also shows high importance of nuclear fuel: it covers about one third (32 – 37%) of the whole consumption volume alongside with oil (31 - 33%) and natural gas (30 - 31%).

Fig. 1. The share of electricity produced at Ignalina NPP in total electric energy production of Lithuania

Thirteen RBMK reactors are being operated in Russia and in Lithuania at the present moment. The RBMK-1500 reactor of Ignalina NPP is the most advanced version of the channel type reactor design series of the former Soviet Union. Only two reactors of this type were built and both of them at the Ignalina site. The designed power of the RBMK-1500 reactor (1500 MW electrical, 4800 MW thermal) is the biggest in the world for a single unit. The first unit of INPP was put into operation by the end of 1983 and the second unit – in 1987. The designed life time of RBMK reactors is 30 years. After the Chernobyl accident the maximum allowed power of each reactor at INPP was reduced to 1350 MW (electrical) or 4200 MW (thermal). Since its commissioning the initial RBMK-1500 design of Ignalina NPP was substantially improved, and several specific features of modern reactor design were implemented. More than 200 million US dollars of western countries support were spent for these purposes. The Safety Analysis Reports for both units and the Reviews of these reports prepared by international teams according to all Western safety requirements have shown that the safety level of Ignalina NPP is very similar to the western type NPPs of the same age.

During the Lithuania’s accession process into the EU, one of the main EU requirements to the energy sector of Lithuania was to close both reactors of Ignalina NPP. This requirement of the EU authorities was not changed during the accession negotiations despite all explanations made by experts on the differences between Ignalina and Chernobyl reactors, numerous safety improvement measures implemented, positive results of safety studies and assessments. Realization of this requirement started in December 31, 2004, when the 1st reactor of Ignalina NPP was shut down (see Fig.2). Installed electricity-generating capacities in Lithuanian energy system decreased to 4.9GW.

Fig.2. The 1st Unit of Ignalina NPP. Its reactor will no longer produce electricity.

Ignalina NPP and energy sector of Lithuania were prepared to this event. The decommissioning program of unit 1 and other relevant measures have been elaborated, safety analysis reports for operating single unit 2 were prepared and reviewed. The arrangements implemented should guarantee safe and effective operation of the unit 2 of Ignalina NPP without serious hurt to utilities. However, the end of 2009 foresees the shutdown of the 2nd reactor.

The main possible consequences of premature total closure of Ignalina NPP can be classified into several groups, but majority of them are negative.

  1. The consequences to energy sector are essential. Decreasing of total electricity-generating capacities together with growing economy, energy consumption and power demand can cause the negative power balance and energy shortage. Depending on the rate of economy growth, such situation can occur in 2015 – 2020 or even in 2010 at the case of very fast economy growth (see Fig.3).

    Fig.3. Forecast for power generation capacity and power demand growth for slow, fast and very fast economy growth scenarios, respectively

  2. Negative impact to macroeconomics of Lithuania. Depending on the rate of growth of energy needs, closure of Ignalina NPP will cause the state payments deficit about 300 – 400 millions EURO.

  3. Impact to environment. The portion of electricity generated by Ignalina NPP will be replaced mainly by electricity produced at gas-fired power plants, and this will significantly increase the CO2 emissions. Lithuania signed the Kyoto Protocol and undertook obligations to reduce the green house gas emissions by 8% at 2008 – 2012 in respect to level of 1990. Another obligation - not to exceed 5.2 mln tones of CO2 emissions per year. The existing Lithuanian thermal power plants, operating on full power mode, will produce around 5.0 mln tones of CO2 per year. Despite the increasing usage of renewable sources of energy, pursuance of this obligations without nuclear seems to be not realistic.

  4. Social consequences. Since the Ignalina NPP is a single nuclear power plant in Lithuania, the major part of its personnel after its closure will become unemployed with limited possibilities for changing speciality and residence.

  5. Reliability of energy supply. Both natural gas and oil for thermal power plants are imported to Lithuania from a single source, which is Russia (via Belarus). After closure of Ignalina NPP and taking into account the EU prohibition for burning heavy oil with sulphur content more than 1% in power industry, the main primary energy source for Lithuania’s energy sector will be a natural gas, and its share will be up to 80%. Such level of dependence on the prices and reliability of supply from single source seems to be potentially dangerous. The above-mentioned problem is analysed in the report of the Centre of Strategical Investigations of Lithuania. It is stated in this document, “Lithuania’s dependence on the import of energy sources from Russia can be evaluated as real threat not only for economy, but also for national security and political independence”.

  6. Impact to education and knowledge. Popularity of nuclear engineering sciences and numbers of students studying these sciences are decreasing, and lack of motivation to work in the nuclear energy sector is observable. Current trends lead to gradual degradation of nuclear knowledge system of Lithuania.

Trying to find an optimal solution for future development of Lithuania’s energy sector, the several feasibility studies of new nuclear power plant were performed. The results obtained from these studies show at what conditions construction of a new nuclear plant is economically reasonable. It is demonstrated that new nuclear power plant is competitive and even more favourable option in respect to combined cycle gas turbine power plant, if price of natural gas during period 2005 – 2020 will increase more than 20% in respect to nowadays price level.

Like in other countries, some Lithuanian people would like to use cheap electricity, generated only from renewable sources. However, in the nearest future it is impossible: reasonable solution of the above mentioned problems and limitation of growth of prices of electricity is possible only using all technological options of energy generation, including nuclear. In Lithuanian newspapers and on TV are sometimes published articles and reports about threats, related with storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, and other well-known anti-nukes’ arguments. Despite this tendentious information, initiated by gas and oil lobby, the public opinion remains positive in regard to nuclear: majority of Lithuanian people has nothing against new, modern and safe western type nuclear power plant, if it will produce cheaper electricity.

The Lithuanian National Energy Strategy (2002) affirms that in the future Lithuania can remain a nuclear state. This approach was confirmed in the last year by the Government of Lithuania approving “The Government Program for period 2004-2008”. It is planned in this program:

  • “ strive for remaining of Lithuania a state having nuclear power plant”;

  • “ attract investments for construction of new nuclear power reactors”.

Taking into account these declarations of Government it is possible to expect, that the next step of Lithuania in the area of future energy supply will be towards continuation of nuclear energy usage, and this step will express the decision about construction of new nuclear power plant.

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