Ignalina NPP and the Prospects of Nuclear Energy in Lithuania
Decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (Ignalina NPP) was one of the main issues in the Lithuanian accession negotiations. The National Energy Strategy approved by the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) in 1999 already provided that Unit 1 of the Ignalina NPP would be closed by 2005, in accordance with the conditions of long-term and essential support from the European Union, G7 and other states and international financial institutions.
Tasks and costs
At the first Donor conference organized on 20-21 June 2000 in order to raise funding for the decommissioning of the first unit of Ignalina NPP, the European Commission and donor states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) promised support. During the conference, donors pledged to commit almost 216 million EUR (the biggest share of 165 million EUR pledged by the EU). An Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund to be administered by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was set up with the intention of accumulating funds for the decommissioning of Ignalina NPP.
The costs of immediate decommissioning were estimated as 1.134 billion EUR (ignoring inflation and pay increase for the staff of the power plant). When signing the Accession Treaty of 2003, European Union countries recognized that decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP would continue beyond the then financial perspective (2000-2006) and that it was an extraordinary financial burden disproportionate to Lithuania’s size and economic capacity. They declared readiness to extend the necessary Community support for the decommissioning after Lithuania’s accession to the EU.
Lithuania committed to stop the reactors realizing that the question of organizing additional EU financial support would be solved at a later stage of the accession negotiations. Lithuanian commitments as well as those of the European Union were sealed in the Protocol No. 4 of the Accession Treaty where Lithuania committed “to the closure of Unit 1 of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant before 2005 and of Unit 2 of this Plant by 31 December 2009 at the latest and to the subsequent decommissioning of these units”. According to this protocol, the European Union appropriated additional financial assistance for Lithuania (285 million EUR committed in equal annual tranches) for the period of 2004-2006, in support of its efforts to decommission and to address the consequences of the closure and decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (the so-called “Ignalina Programme"). In addition, the European Union pledged a further adequate support in tackling these matters after 2006. To that end, Lithuania should receive 837 million EUR in current prices (743 million EUR in the prices of 2004) within the EU Financial Perspective of 2007-2013.
Lithuanian National Energy Strategy states that, with a view to stay a nuclear energy state, Lithuania will support investment in building a new reactor. The infrastructure of Ignalina NPP would be used for this purpose, and Lithuania would not fall dependent on energy imports after the decommissioning of the old plant. In order to ensure its energy security, it is also very important for Lithuania to integrate into Western European energy networks and co-operate with its neighbours. On 27 February 2006, the Prime Ministers of the Baltic States signed a Declaration on security of supply in the Baltic States and common European energy policy (in Trakai, Lithuania) inviting the European Commission to pay more attention to these issues topical for the whole EU.
On 8 December of the same year, a Joint Communiqué of the Prime Ministers’ Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers on expert consultations of the three Baltic States with Polish representatives on co-operation in building and operating a new Ignalina NPP was signed in Vilnius. It is estimated that the project with equal participation of the four states would cost up to 4 billion EUR and the new power plant might be built in 2015. The design works are expected to start this year.
Declaration by the Prime Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on security of supply in the Baltic States and common European energy policy (Trakai, 27 February 2006)
Communiqué of the Prime Ministers’ Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers on expert consultations on co-operation in building and operating a new Ignalina NPP (Vilnius, 8 December 2006)