Sweden and Lithuania could link power grids

Lithuanian energy company Lietuvos Energija and Sweden's Svenska Kraftnat have kicked off moves toward a possible linking of the two countries' energy grids, the Lithuanian company said on Tuesday.

Lietuvos Energija said Swedish consultants SWECO International had won a tender to carry out a feasibility study on connecting Lithuanian and Swedish electricity systems.

The study would be delivered in September to Lietuvos Energija and Svenska Kraftnät, which are both state-owned companies and run their respective national grids.

Lithuania’s and Sweden’s energy grids could be linked via a 350-kilometre, 700-1,000 megawatt cable under the Baltic sea.

Preliminary estimates have shown that the link could cost some €400 million euros and could be completed by 2012.

Lithuania is looking for ways to avoid an energy shortfall when it shuts down its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear plant, which supplies about 70 percent of the Baltic country’s electricity needs.

The first reactor at Ignalina was shut down in 2004.

The facility is to be closed completely in 2009 under Lithuania’s commitments to the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

Lithuania and its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Latvia also plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania. Poland is also expected to join the project.

Lithuania, which regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, remains heavily dependent on energy from Russia, its only supplier of gas and a major supplier of oil.