2020.10.02 14:24

Brussels approves ‘unprecedented’ funding for Baltic energy security

BNS, LRT.lt2020.10.02 14:24

The European Commission has approved “unprecedented” funding for the Baltic states to unplug their power grids from the Moscow-controlled network, Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas said on Friday.

The Commission has allocated 720 million euros for the second stage of the project that will see the Baltic states synchronise their grids with those of continental Europe.

Lithuania will receive 300 million euros for the project.

The application filed by the Baltic countries had earned the best score and therefore the Commission approved the maximum rate of co-financing, 75 percent, said Vaičiūnas.

Read more: Lithuanian president signs power grid synchronisation package

“Considering the last two years, the total amount allocated [for the synchronisation] has exceeded 1 billion euros. What is important is that financial support will enable the installation of critical infrastructure,” he added.

Funds allocated by the Commission will be spent on key projects – 493 million euros on the construction of Harmony Link, a 700 MW submarine cable between Lithuania and Poland, and 166.5 million euros on synchronous compensators in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

The rest of the money will be used for the upgrades and development of the networks necessary for the operation of Harmony Link.

The financing agreement should be signed next year, the minister said.

The switch to the continental European system, scheduled to take place by 2025, is considered a strategic project by the EU and Lithuania and critical to the energy independence of the Baltic states.

The entire project is estimated to cost 1.6 billion euros, with 75 percent of the funding coming from the EU, according to the Lithuanian energy minister.

Critics have previously warned that the Kremlin could use the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus to delay or derail the switch.

By agreeing on a joint Baltic ban of Belarusian nuclear electricity, President Nausėda has said it would "pave the way for smoother implementation of the synchronisation project".

Read more: Latvia backs Lithuania in nuclear dispute with Belarus after months of negotiations