Nuke power to re-energize the nation

The Baltic Times
July 17, 2008

Experts from the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication recently published an action plan that calls for a 400to 600-megawatt nuclear power plant to be built in Estonia.

Estonia”s own nuclear station would make it less dependent on neighboring countries and could lower electricity prices.

The plan to build a nuclear station in Estonia has drawn criticism from the Green Party, and their Web site calls for people to vote against it. The Green Party is a proponent of energy conservation and increased efficiency.

“It would be incredibly stupid to hope that prices of energy carriers in the world are decreasing. So the only way [to cut costs] is to decrease our expenditures on energy,” said Green Party MP Marek Strandberg.

The plan also suggested increasing shale oil extraction and even mentioned upping electricity imports, but its clear emphasis was on the nuclear station.

More concrete action on building a nuclear station cannot be taken until a nuclear energy law is created. This could happen by 2012, and the nuclear station would be ready by 2025.

Potentially lower prices, an outside investment of around 20 billion kroons (1.28 billion euros) and simplicity of choice could be deciding factors in the nuclear debate.

The complete opening of Estonia”s energy market in five years, combined with the partial closing of Narva”s shale oil boilers, could render Estonia dependent on its neighbors until the nuclear station is ready. The closed shale oil boilers must be replaced with imported electricity and gas turbines.

Prices of oil and natural gas keep rising, and the Ignalina nuclear plant is closing. Until the nuclear plant comes online, Estonia”s production of carbon dioxide will be enormous due to reliance on the shale oil plants, meaning the country may not have leftover carbon credits to sell. But the action plan proposes using Estonia”s carbon credits to fund construction of the new plant.

The action plan proposes several possible solutions until 2025, when the nuclear station is slated to meet the readiness criteria: reliability, low price and acceptable environmental impact. Those in attendance suggested shale oil, coproduction stations and wind parks, but buying energy from the Lithuanian nuclear station was only mentioned once.