Issue No.9 Summer
(July 2005)


ENS News

ENS President's Contribution

Tapping Unusual Quarters

ENS Events

ETRAP 2005

ENC 2005

PIME 2006

RRFM 2006

Topnux 2006

Member Societies & Corporate Members

News from Germany

News from Romania

News from Czech Republic

YGN Report

Forum 2005

Jan Runermark Award

European Institutions


FORATOM on Baltic sea Region

ENS World News

Japan: green light for Monju

NucNet News

Greenpeace Co-Founder


Karlsruhe Research Center invites applications

ENS Members

Links to ENS Member Societies

Links to ENS Corporate Members

Editorial staff

ETRAP 2005

ETRAP 2005
23-25 November 2005 in Brussels


RRFM 2006RRFM 2006

RRFM 2006
30 April - 3 May 2006 in Sofia, Bulgaria


















FORATOM Task Force focuses on Baltic Sea Region

On 22 June 2005, the FORATOM Task Force on New Member States met in Brussels. MEPs, ministry officials from the New Member States and representatives of the European nuclear industry discussed the energy situation in the Baltic Sea Region. Here is a FLASH report on the meeting:

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice-President of the European Parliament, began by giving an overview of the situation in the new Member States, highlighting the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant (NPP) in Lithuania and contrasting it with the new-build project in Finland. Vidal-Quadras emphasised that nuclear energy’s greatest assets are that it does not emit CO2 and that it supports sustainable development.

The first session focused on security of supply in the region. Finnish MEP Eija Riitta Korhola, a member of the Parliament’s Environment and Human Rights committees, talked about co-operation in the field of energy in the Baltic Sea Region. She stressed the importance of connecting electricity grids between the Baltic Sea states, illustrating the Baltic Ring project that will link Finland and Poland with the Baltic States. On the question of new-builds in the region, she advocated an interdisciplinary approach that embraces environmental, human rights and energy issues is essential. The Emission Trading Scheme has not helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the European Environment Agency, 9 out of 15 Member States failed to meet their emission targets up to 2003. Meanwhile, the whole of Europe is becoming increasingly dependent upon energy imports, especially gas from Russia. In Korhola’s view, the solution for countries in the region that are keen to fight climate change and encourage energy independence is to invest more in nuclear energy. However, the decision to build a NPP should be taken only if there is a real commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. Against this background, Sweden’s decision to phase-out nuclear energy in favour of more renewables is unrealistic, as renewables will never produce enough electricity to replace nuclear power.

Dr Haug, FORATOM’s Director General, highlighted the link between energy and human rights, stressing how not having access to sufficient energy is an infringement of citizen’s human and democratic rights.

Prof. Jurgis Vilemas of the Lithuanian Energy Institute then spoke about the situation in Lithuania. He began by making the point that the closure of the Ignalina plant will not have a great impact on his country because Lithuania, like Estonia, currently enjoys an energy surplus. Lithuania produces three times more electricity than it consumes (Estonia twice as much). It has a developed its own district heating system and although it is not linked to the Western power grid, it is connected with the other Baltic States. Further connections are planned with Finland, Poland and Sweden. Lithuania also has an efficient natural gas supply system with underground storage. It also imports oil. However, Russia is its sole supplier of oil and gas. Greenhouse gas emissions in the Baltic region are well below the limits set by the Kyoto protocol. The way forward for Lithuania, according to Vilemas, is to maximise current combined heat and power capacity, modernize the thermal power plants and build new combined heat and power facilities. Vilemas concluded by recommending that the lifetime of Ignalina II should be extended until 2017 and that a new NPP should only be considered if fuel prices remain very high and are not built before 2025.

Latvian MEP Valdis Dombrovskis then presented the situation in his country. Latvia imports 40% of its energy and the rest is produced domestically at small power stations. While electricity production in the Baltic States is bound to fall because of the shutdown of Ignalina and of oil shale plants in Estonia, energy demand in Latvia is growing by 3-4% a year. As Latvia is not connected to the Western power grid, security of supply is a problem. The Latvian Energy Ministry has proposed three solutions to the problem of security of supply: the building of an NPP in Ignalina, connecting Baltic States’ grid to those in Finland and Poland, and the completion of a common energy market in the Baltic States. Dombrovskis insisted that the Baltic States must co-operate closely on future energy policy.

Andres Tarand, an Estonian MEP, then gave a broad brushstroke of the situation in Estonia. In the 1990s, Estonian scientists claimed there was no alternative to oil shale, but now they think otherwise. Oil shale power stations are very polluting and EU environmental law requires them to be shut down. Estonia should continue to exploit its small combined heat and power stations, reduce its natural gas consumption in order to become independent from Russian imports and use biomass and wind power more. Nuclear energy is not yet on the Estonian political agenda and a national debate would have to take place first. A recent opinion poll conducted by the Faktum research center shows that 60% of the Estonians are against nuclear power, but the figure was 80% twenty years ago. So, things are changing - gradually.

The second session was a lunch debate on the prospects for nuclear power in Poland. Elzbieta Wroblewska, Deputy Director of Poland’s Ministry of Economy and Labour (Energy Department), spotlighted Polish energy policy up to 2025. Although coal is the main energy source in Poland and will remain so, nuclear power is now firmly on the political agenda. Poland plans to diversify its energy mix by building its first two-unit NPP by 2021. Hanna Trojanowska, Director of International Affairs at the Polish Power Grid Company emphasised that decision to build NPPs was made to meet increasing demand, reduce CO2 emissions and lower the price of electricity. However, some preconditions must be met. Firstly, the Polish public must approve the nuclear programme. Secondly, expertise and know-how must be increased. Finally, a workable legal and financial framework must be set up. Prof. Stefan Chwaszczewski, Deputy Director of Poland’s Institute of Atomic Energy, highlighted Poland’s current research into nuclear reactors.

Finally, Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek asserted that the rise of oil and gas prices and the climate change crisis have forced European countries to opt for or reconsider nuclear power. “Renewables are an excellent idea, but too costly. Nuclear power is the best solution in Poland, and elsewhere, but a public debate is needed. Polish nuclear projects were stopped twice before, once in the 1950s and then following the Chernobyl accident.” Buzek remains unconvinced that nuclear is the cheapest option. FORATOM President, Eduardo Gonzalez Gomez referred to a recent NEA study into the cost of generating electricity that favourably compares the costs of nuclear energy with other energy sources. For Buzek, coal power stations cannot be replaced by NPPs in Poland - both options must be considered. Consequently, the nuclear and coal industries must co-operate to help combat climate change and meet Poland’s energy needs. NPPs must be built and joint research on carbon capture carried out. FLASH will continue to report on the work of FORATOM’s Task Force on New Member States.

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