News ID: 132810
Published: 0541 GMT December 13, 2015

Lithuania launches new power links to cut reliance on Russia

Lithuania launches new power links to cut reliance on Russia

Lithuania is planning to inaugurate two new electrical links to Sweden and Poland in a bid to reduce its reliance on Russian electricity grid.

"The first electrons have already passed" through the EU-backed power cables from Sweden and Poland, said the country’s Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis after the links were tested ahead of official inauguration on Monday.

According to the plan, an undersea cable, which connects Lithuania to Sweden, is to bring in cheaper Scandinavian power, while the line to Poland is even more significant because it is considered as the key piece of infrastructure that can eventually be used to integrate the three Baltic states into the European electricity grid, AFP reported.

Lithuania and fellow Baltic states, Estonia and Latvia, have already joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, but they are still part of a Russian-controlled electricity grid, which is a legacy of five decades of Soviet rule that ended in 1991.

Energy security, especially with regard to gas supplies from Russia, has been usually a cause of tensions between the independent Baltic states and Moscow. This issue has frequently affected relations between Moscow and European countries, and disputes with Ukraine over Moscow's gas price have left most of the Europe without supplies twice in the past decade.

To solve problem with regard to gas supplies from Russia, Lithuania has already built a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, which was inaugurated at the beginning of this year. The new plan is aimed to reduce the country’s dependence on Russian electricity.

Lithuania imports three-quarters of its needed electricity, currently half of it from Belarus and Russia.

Based on existing plans, the 700-megawatt Swedish cable and 500-megawatt link to Poland are adequate to supply Lithuania with needed electricity during non-peak times, but the country will still need Russian electricity for the peak season of electricity consumption.

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