Lithuanian Voters Reject Nuclear, Poland Stands By Development Plans

Lithuania Rejects Nuclear

Nuclear is a large part of Central Europe’s long-term plan to reduce dependence on coal and the need for natural gas imports from Russia, but the outlook for that strategy has become less certain since the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Lithuania is the latest country to reject nuclear – two-thirds of voters rejected plans for a regional nuclear plant in in a non-binding referendum.

Since it’s non-binding, the vote doesn’t kill the project but at the very least, it will likely be revised. 

"As far as Eesti Energia is concerned then it is obvious that the risks related to execution of the project have raised significantly and we shall definitely take it into account," Andres Tropp, of Estonian energy firm Eesti Energia, told Reuters.

The country’s previous, Soviet-era nuclear power plant was shut down in 2009 for safety reasons, one of the conditions for Lithuania’s entry to the EU in 2004, reports Financial Times.

Now, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia would co-fund a €5 billion plant, which would be built by GE Hitachi.

Besides safety concerns, there may not be a need for the plant, because two nuclear plants being developed in the region  could export power into Lithuania – one in Russia and one in  Belarus.

Poland Government Reaffirms Plan

Poland was originally part of the regional nuclear plan, but has decided to build its own plant.

It will invest $15.8 billion in the country’s first nuclear plant – producing 3 gigawatts by 2023 as one way to reduce dependence on coal. The goal is to double that capacity by 2030.

The country’s energy policy targets 15% renewables by 2020, and it is preparing to add feed-in tariffs for wind, solar, geothermal, small hydro, biogas, biomass, wave and tidal power possibly by early 2013.

Right now, Poland still relies on coal for about 90% of its power, and has been using Tradable Green Certificates to inspire renewable energy investments. It’s also getting into natural gas fracking.

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