Baltic states to link power grids to EU
The main goal is to reduce their energy dependence on Russia
13 May, 2017
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia announced last Monday they had agreed to link their power systems to other EU Member States through Poland in order to reduce their dependence on Russia, news wires reported. Power grids in the three Baltic countries, formerly part of Soviet Union, are still integrated with those in Belarus and Russia, although they have been members of the EU and NATO since 2004, Reuters commented.
The Baltic governments see the continued dependence on Russia as a threat, partly because of what they say is a lack of transparency on upkeep of the network in Russia, which they say makes it hard to rely on its stability. “We would want to desynchronise the Baltic States from Russia. And first priority is desynchronisation which will be done through Poland,” Estonia's PM Juri Ratas told reporters in Tallinn after meeting his counterparts from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. “All four of us agreed that we will try to get clarity on division of duties between all four countries by the end of the year,” he pointed out.
Russia has never cut power flows to the Baltic states or threatened to do so, but Lithuania lists its power system's synchronisation with Russia as one of the top national security risks. The countries will still need to find a way to accommodate Russia, whose Kaliningrad enclave power network is currently synchronised with mainland Russia through the Baltic states. The Estonian PM noted that the synchronisation with the EU should ensure a high level of reliability and independence of supply and lower costs for consumers.
Decoupling from the Russian system, originally projected for 2025, was delayed as countries debated whether to synchronise using power links between Lithuania and Poland, or undersea power cables which would be laid between Estonia and Finland. A recent study by the Joint Research Centre, the Commission's science and knowledge service, suggested synchronising through Poland as the most economically viable and reliable way.
Leaders of the Baltic states and Poland also emphasised close ties between Member States ahead of Brexit talks start. “We would like to have a stronger, more united Union,” Ratas said. “The unity of the EU is important as never before,” his Lithuanian counterpart Saulius Skvernelis echoed. “Our major interest is to preserve the European project and to ensure its continuity. Brexit is a challenge for the bloc, which must be met without divisions,” said Polish PM Beata Szydlo. The leaders also discussed the Nordstream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, criticising it as a political project that did not meet the EU's energy goals.