The provision of funding after 2020 for the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was discussed at a meeting on the 2nd of November between Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas and European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger. This is necessary in order to ensure that operation of the nuclear power plant – which houses two of the most powerful reactors in the world – is concluded in a safe and timely manner.
During the meeting, the minister presented the significant progress that has been made over the past years in the Ignalina NPP decommissioning projects to the European Commissioner. The decommissioning works are currently being carried out on schedule, according to the plan that was coordinated with the European Commission and approved two years ago.
According to the Minister of Energy, in order to ensure timely and safe closure, it is necessary to secure uninterrupted EU funding beyond 2020 as well.
“EU support is crucial and we simply do not have any other alternatives. We all understand that the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP and management of the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste would be too much of a financial burden for Lithuania alone. The EU itself has recognised that the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP is a unique project in terms of nuclear safety that is not in line with the size of the country, and that economically, one country will definitely not be able to carry the burden on its own,” said the Minister of Energy.
In joining the EU, Lithuania pledged to terminate operation of the reactors that are considered unsafe, and the EU pledged to allocate adequate funding for decommissioning the nuclear power plant in Lithuania. The minister noted that Lithuania is carrying out its part of the obligations and has consistently increased national funding for the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP. The government has adopted a decision to allocate 14 per cent of the funds required for the closure from the national budget every year after 2020.
The Ignalina NPP is planned to be closed by 2038. The EU has allocated EUR 1.5 billion for the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP through 2020. After 2020, over EUR 1.5 billion will additionally be required until the end of the project (including project risks and three per cent inflation), with almost EUR 1.3 billion made up of EU support funds.
The minister noted that alongside EU funding, the involvement of the European Commission (EC) in supervision of the project is also important in ensuring its smooth implementation. In addition, it was noted that several dozen European companies are also participating in the Ignalina NPP decommissioning projects.
“Competence and experience is being acquired in decommissioning the Ignalina NPP that is important for the entire European Union. We are thus creating a special added value in Europe. I hope that we will be able to apply this experience and knowledge in closing other nuclear power plants in the EU countries,” said the Minister of Energy.
According to the EU Commissioner, closure of the Ignalina NPP is a project of European significance and the EC understands the complexity and specificity of this project, so efforts will be made to ensure continuity of funding with appropriate measures. The Commissioner urged Lithuania to continue working actively with the EC to ensure continued support for the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP.
Funding for other strategic energy infrastructure projects after 2020 was also discussed with the European Commissioner. According to the minister, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) that is currently being used is an important source of funding for projects that are commercially unprofitable but which are strategically necessary and ensure energy security.
The power interconnection between Lithuania and Poland as well as the Gas Interconnection Poland–Lithuania (GIPL) project that is currently in the works were mentioned as examples of success in eliminating energy isolation and creating a unified EU market.
During the meeting, both sides noted that this funding instrument should continue to be used for implementing projects such as synchronisation of the Baltic States with the Continental European Network, as this will make it possible to create a fully integrated EU energy market.
Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania