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Energy 8 February, 2019 10:00 am   

Harmony Link – how Poland helps the Baltic states break up with Russia in peace

The Baltic states are preparing for a divorce with the power system of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Harmony Link project implemented with Poles will help. It can hurt the Russians who can break up in peace or go for a clash – says Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.

Breaking up with Russia

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have decided to separate themselves from the post-Soviet IPS/UPS system, which prevented them from integrating the energy market with continental Europe within the European Union. They could still choose to synchronize with the Scandinavian system, but this idea fell. Last year, a political agreement was reached between the Baltic States and Poland on synchronization with its participation. It was decided to synchronize via the existing LitPol Link connection and the future HVDC cable that will connect Poland and Lithuania via the Baltic Sea. The synchronization is to be carried out by 2025.

The case of Ostrołęka

By the way, it’s worth dealing with one myth. Although the Polish government argues that the extension of the Ostrołęka Power Plant by a new coal block is an action to synchronize with the Baltic States, it would have problems with competing on the market with Scandinavian energy coming from Sweden through NordBalt. The Swedes have three nuclear power plants (eight reactors) and developed hydropower. Together, they provide 80 percent of the demand in this country, and surpluses are exported. Therefore, Ostrołęka C will be one of the options increasing the energy security of Lithuanians, but probably more expensive than alternatives. The Minister of energy of Lithuania confirmed this interpretation in BiznesAlert.pl. – There is no direct connection between synchronization and Ostrołęka, but any new and stable generation capacity will increase our security of supply – he said.

Harmony Link

Poles will help, however, differently. As part of the synchronization, an alternative in the form of Harmony Link was decided. It is a DC cable project on which, in December last year, Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne and Litgrid signed a preliminary agreement. According to BiznesAlert.pl information, a working group of Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne and Litgrid was established. The goal is to make the final investment decision next year. At the moment, however, the technical details of the new cable and its exact course are not known yet.

However, the idea of ​​a connection is known, what a representative of the government tells us about. – High voltage, direct current cable has been considered technically necessary for the synchronization of energy systems of the Baltic States with the European system – explains Piotr Naimski, government plenipotentiary for strategic energy infrastructure. – The energy “connection” of the Baltic states to Europe will take place through Poland. It will be done without the need to build LitPol Link 2. We will not build a second AC line. All you need is LitPol Link. We will build a submarine cable for this, which will ensure security after connecting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia systems to the European area.

– We have a political agreement between Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the European Commission of June last year, defining a scenario for the implementation of this project. This spring, we will have the technical synchronization conditions set by ENTSO-E. The Baltic States will support PSE to join the system. In the meantime, PSE cooperates with the Lithuanian operator Litgrid in more detail. The deadline is 2025, when the synchronization project is to be implemented – says Piotr Naimski.

Breaking up in peace or not?

The Russians are preparing for testing the operation of the power system. However, BiznesAlert.pl claims that their actions delay the start of tests conducted by the Baltic states and it may be heard that this is a deliberate action, as in the case of exercises of the Russian fleet delaying the construction of the NordBalt cable, which we also reported. Preparations for synchronization are not synchronized, and in case of problems, the Baltic states will be able to count on the support of the European Commission with which the whole process is agreed.

Lithuanians are not afraid of problems. – The Russians announced plans to change the operation of the power system in the Kaliningrad District into an isolated mode, which, like the launching of the FSRU in the Oblast, is to increase their energy security. This is a reaction to the plan of independence of the Baltic countries from the Brell ring – explains the Minister of Energy of Lithuania, Zygimantas Vaiciunas. – We read this as a sign that Russia is aware of the “divorce with BRELL”.

– This is the base scenario we are preparing for. It should be emphasized that from the technical point of view it will not be the first time in history when the Kaliningrad Oblast will be operating in isolation – added the Lithuanian minister. In his opinion, it is in the interest of all the countries involved to desynchronize the Oblast without “additional risk to the safe operation of their power systems”.

Practically synchronization has already begun. The beginning of the process symbolizes the request to submit technical synchronization requirements by the association of European operators ENTSO-E, which, according to the predictions of the Lithuanian minister, will happen in the spring. – Baltic states applied for financing from Connecting Europe Facility, and the decision is to be made in the very near future – Vaiciunas assured me.

To make it by 2025

However, it is not known whether the Russians are no longer playing to delay the breakup of the Baltic States with BRELL, as it will be difficult for them to stop it. Perhaps the lack of synchronization in the preparation for synchronization is not a coincidence. However, blackout threats appearing in the Russian media at least since February last year, probably will not come true. I would like to remind that, according to representatives of Lithuania, it is possible to install converters allowing further energy trading with Belarus and Russia in the event of delaying synchronization beyond 2025. However, such a settlement would probably require a deal with the Russians, who could make concessions on the Baltic side beyond the power sector.



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