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Energy suicide: why the Baltic States runs from BRELL?

The Baltic countries are willing to break the energy ties with Russia.

No matter how much I may say that the Soviet Union as a nation ceased to exist even in the year 1991, economic decay is still ongoing. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have decided to completely disconnect from the energosoedineny with Russia and Belarus to 2025 year.

Until recently, the three Baltic states could not agree on how they will leave the hated "occupation" and the grid with any of the countries of the "enlightened Europe" them to better connect its power grid.

Lithuania advocated synchronization through Poland, Estonia - through Finland. 8 May 2017 in Tallinn hosted a meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers, which discussed foreign policy, security, energy and transport. Then the Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, said that his country supported the synchronization of the energy systems of the Baltic States with Central Europe through Poland because of economic expediency. At the same time, there is an alternative - it is synchronization with the power system of the Nordic countries. In addition, Ratas noted that the synchronization of the Baltic energy systems should be highly reliable and independent.

The withdrawal of the Baltic states from the BRELL energy ring (Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) is a political decision, many experts agree. It affects a number of areas at once. The main thing is that many important questions remain unclear. For example, how much will the electricity cost for the end user after Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are disconnected from the "energy ring"? Is the Baltics ready for this in principle? How much will it take to reorganize the networks? And what will happen to the old compounds? Is there enough reserve capacity for relations with the countries of Central Europe? How will Russia solve the energy supply problem in the Kaliningrad region, which in the event of a Baltic exit from BRELL will be cut off from the Russian Federation in energy terms? Many of these questions are not intelligible or at least unambiguous.

How much electricity will cost after the Baltic exit BRELL?

BRELL - an agreement between Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the parallel operation of power systems of these countries. Signed an agreement was in 2001 year. Grid electricity exchange and support each other reserves in case of emergencies. However, a few years ago, the Baltic countries have announced in the course of sync with the power grids of Russia and the CIS and the transition to the European ENTSO-E system. Vilnius about it first, and then to Tallinn and Riga have declared at the government level.

As for the price, today the electricity in the Baltic countries is not the cheapest. According to the results of the first half of the year 2016, the price for one kilowatt-hour for the population, for example, in Latvia was the highest and amounted to 12,2 ruble. The difference between Estonia and Lithuania is not so great: 9,6 ruble and 9,2 ruble per kilowatt-hour of electricity, respectively. For comparison: in Belarus in the same period, the price per kilowatt-hour was only 3,6 ruble, and in Russia even lower - 2,9 ruble. The fact is that the production of electricity in the Baltic states is affected by large environmental payments, strict regulation of emission quotas, as well as tightening requirements for stations that operate on fossil fuels. All this, of course, does not remain unnoticed for consumers.

To implement the Baltic plans for the exit from BRELL, it takes time, overnight, the whole system will not be reconstructed. Earlier in an interview with Sputnik, Sergey Kondratiev, deputy head of the Economics Department at the Institute of Energy and Finance, said that the European Union had plans to unite and integrate energy markets, create an energy ring that would encompass the system of Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany and the Baltic states. Such a project requires colossal investments. According to rough estimates, this is more than 500 million euros. It will be necessary to change the entire topology of the network, since today most of the system is configured to supply electricity from east to west. According to the expert, the difference in wholesale purchases between what the Russian side offers and Finland, Sweden, Norway, East Denmark, can be $ 10-12 per megawatt-hour.

Who will allocate funds for this project? Presumably, the part will be covered by the European Commission from infrastructure funds. However, the main financial burden will be borne by the end users of electricity. And not all officials support such ideas. For example, the head of the energy department of the Polish Energy Ministry, Valdemar Lagoda, noted that, in addition to the fact that the project is complicated for technical reasons, additional investments will be required to synchronize with continental Europe. Most of all the funds in this plan will go to power lines in Poland, and "this is a big challenge."


In an interview to a REGNUM doctor of economic sciences, head of the educational direction "State and municipal management" of the North-West Management Institute RANHiGS Alexey Balashov said:

"The cost of electricity is a matter for which there is as yet no clarity. But, given the interest of the main initiator, and they are still Lithuania, I believe that at least for some of the energy consumers in the Baltic republics the cost of connection is likely to be cheaper. It will be about Estonia and Lithuania. Why? This can only be guessed from the fact that they "push" this project. Most likely, they expect to agree on some special preferences of the European energy system, because I do not see economic reasons here. Moreover, there is no such information in the public domain ".

There is another point of view. According to Director General of the Energy Development Fund Andreya Listovskogo, consumers in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia does not feel the change in price, "because they are self-sufficient, and they have not consumption greatly increases." But the very process of interaction will take place in a different way.

On the other hand, all the arguments about the economic feasibility of certain aspects of the problem of the Baltic exit from BRELL will always come across the uncertainty of the consequences of making any decisions, explained in an interview with IA REGNUM the head of the department of electric power and electromechanics of the St. Petersburg Mining University, Professor Vadim Spenst. He recalled that, for example, for Lithuania this is not the first attempt to disconnect from BRELL. Back in 2013, power system operators of the Baltic countries signed an agreement on the formation of a common market, according to which the EU countries had the advantage in supplying electricity, and third countries undertook to trade directly with the Nordic NPS stock exchange. Then Vilnius, despite the incomplete integration into a single European energy system, hastened to abandon direct purchases of cheaper Russian electricity and began to buy electricity in the illiquid Lithuanian segment of the Nord-European exchange NordPool NPS (demand significantly exceeded supply). Eventually, the price jumps of electricity reached 60%. As a result, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius was forced to admit that the electricity policy in Russia was erroneous, and the profile structures obliged "to correct the situation and return the established quotas for imports from Russia."

Meanwhile, the electricity flows in the energy ring are beneficial to all the participants from the economic point of view. That is, if at some point Lithuania considers that the cost of power generation in her higher than in neighboring Latvia, it begins importing cheaper electricity from Latvia. Either there sharply increased electricity generation at hydroelectric power station, because it began flooding - there was a surplus of cheap electricity, said Head of the Department of electric power and electro.

"Another example: at night in Belarus there is an excess of electricity, and Lithuania has a pumped storage power plant (HPPP), which can take these surpluses. The PSP can accumulate excess energy produced at Belarusian stations at night with low demand, and then issue it to consumers during peak hours on the grid. HAES pumped water into reservoirs at low demand and dumped it at high demand. Similar mutually beneficial flows within the ring go constantly. At the same time, Lithuania is in fact the weakest link: it imports as much as 70% of electricity. So, according to the IEF (Institute of Economics and Finance - prim.red.), In 2014, Lithuania consumed 10,72 billion kWh, while itself produced only 4,05 billion kWh. For the Lithuanian energy system, the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant built at Soviet times at the request of the EU was a major blow. Latvia has a much better situation, it imports only a third of its electricity (2,32 billion kWh for consumption of 7,37 billion kWh). Latvia is seasonally surplus-deficit. In spring, during floods, it usually provides itself with electricity, and buys in the remaining time. Estonia in principle is energy-efficient at the expense of its GRES and exports electricity to Latvia, Finland and even Russia. In addition, Lithuania and Latvia have large thermal generation capacities at TPPs, but they do not load them at full capacity, since electricity generation is more expensive for them, and it is more profitable to buy it in Russia, for example. All TPPs in the Baltic States operate on gas, and this is an expensive product for Europe,- I explained Shpenst.

Russian enclave blockaded

At the same time, as noted by Andrey Listovsky, the output of the Baltic BRELL unnoticed will not work for the Russian side, even though the consumer is likely to no change in the price of electricity will not even notice.

"Until 2025, the isolated territory - Kaliningrad - should be seriously prepared, because it will be impossible to cross the flows with Russia. We will either have to synchronize with European networks, or work in an isolated mode, which from the technical point of view is extremely unsafe, there should be reserve capacity. These activities will be implemented, reserve capacity will be worked out. The regulator will try to conclude an agreement either with Poland or with the Baltic states for what was with whom to reserve, and so that an emergency flow can be maintained. On consumers this will not directly affect, but the financial burden is likely to lie on the main European zone of Russia. These activities will not be free "- he said in an interview to a REGNUM CEO energorazvitiya Fund.

Energy supply in Kaliningrad in the conditions of the Baltic countries exit from BRELL is a big complex issue, which has repeatedly concerned BakuToday. Let's remind only that two years ago the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has made a decision that it is necessary to provide reliable power supply of the Kaliningrad region in various operating modes. In March 2016, a scenario for the development of gas thermal power plants in the city of Sovetsk (160 MW) was developed, in the suburbs of Kaliningrad, in the town of Prigolsky (440 MW) and in Gusev for 160 MW, and the Primorskaya coal-fired power plant near Svetly as a reserve. Another planned construction of 250 kilometers of high-voltage power lines that connect new power plants to the existing network, completely modernizing the network in the east of the region, between the substations in Sovetsk and Chernyakhovsk.

In general, in order for Russia to leave BRELL if necessary, designed and implemented a number of activities. In particular, to build a new substation and lines to connect to UES of Russia two villages on the Curonian Spit. Now they receive electricity from Lithuania.

"Here the main question of the time, why the statements of Lithuania are quite sharp and technically, economically in no way backed up. The project for the construction of four local thermal power plants in the Kaliningrad region is scheduled for implementation by the end of 2018. Lithuania also claims that they are already ready to join the European energy system in 2017. Accordingly, create energy blockade problems for several million consumers in the Kaliningrad region. The question of time: what will happen faster. I suspect that Lithuania's transition not to the European energy system will happen sooner rather than later. In this case, for some time, apparently, we will observe in the territory of the Kaliningrad enclave a situation that is partly similar to what is happening on the territory of the Russian Crimea, that is, certain power outages that took place 1,5-2 a year ago in the Crimea. Then all this will be restored "- expresses its opinion Balashov.

And what about the situation of the Kaliningrad region after the exit from the Baltic BRELL experts also agree not all. Thus, according to Vadim Shpensta if Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania still be disconnected from the energy ring, then Kaliningrad will indeed become an energy island, but the disaster did not happen. Especially in the context of the fact that, as stated by the Minister of Energy Aleksandrom Novakom, the construction of new power plants will be accelerated. Today Kaliningrad region itself self-sufficient in energy with CHP-2, and the problem is solved a small deficit. In this sense, in the Crimea, the situation is more difficult, since it exported more than 80% of electricity from Ukraine. Kaliningrad region, in turn, to 90% self-sufficient in electricity.

Due to gas thermal power plant for natural gas demand in the region will grow. Therefore will require additional investment in infrastructure. "Gazprom" will have to then build a plant for liquefaction and regasification of natural gas and an underground storage with the increased capacity of up to 2,7 billion cubic meters per year. For its part, "Yantarenergo" update existing substations and power, lay new cable lines at a cost of 10 billion rubles. In general, the whole project was estimated at 2016 100 billion rubles.

"If the Baltic States out of BRELL before being all the necessary infrastructure for the autonomy of Kaliningrad will be built, then do not worry do not happen again. If during peak periods will not have enough power, you can purchase or transfer from other parts of the mobile power station. They are now, for example, insure consumers in the Crimea. But this is a temporary option. At the same time prepare for the Baltic States out of the Russian energy system in Russia as long as there ", - says Vadim Shpenst.

In addition, the Russian government returned to the idea of ​​resuming the construction of the Baltic NPP in Kaliningrad region. During a trip to the Kaliningrad region on April 14 Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak called for the resumption of the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad region.

"In reality, only the nuclear power plant will be able to provide the region with cheap energy, and in the future it will also be able to export electricity to Poland. It is necessary to remember that the supply of additional gas and coal to Kaliningrad is possible only through the territory of Lithuania, and, therefore, when constructing additional CHP plants, the region does not cease to be a hostage to its enclave position. It is also necessary to take into account that the technology of delivery, storage and liquefaction and liquefaction of gas is not cheap. And if we talk about further economic development of the region, then it will be impossible without the source of cheap electricity ", - said the deputy chief editor of news agency REGNUM Igor Pavlovsky.

Strength enough?

It is important to understand whether the capacity is enough for cords Baltic States and foreign countries. Electricity consumption in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are not very big. Previously in this region worked the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which gave out its power in the three Baltic states. Therefore, in terms of power transmission itself is no problem. With bundles with other countries difficult. Perhaps Baits will mount a new additional lines or switches.

Ignalina nuclear Power Plant

According to Professor Vadim Shpenst, power to all power cords should be enough. Although various options in this situation. For example, there are many questions about the separation of power systems of the Baltic countries from the Russian Federation, as a blow is the North-West of the country, and then by the central territory. The fact is that if between them there are only two power lines (KV 750 and 330 kV), which periodically need to withdraw for repairs.

The problem is that up to 40% of the bandwidth between the energy systems of the Center and the North-West of Russia is provided by the networks of the Baltic countries. Spenst explains that, according to the data of the Federal Grid Company (FGC), because of the energy ring gap, the strategic positions of the Russian fuel and energy complex in the European region may decrease, the export of electricity will also decrease, and the generation of energy at Russian stations will further decrease. After the summer of 2016, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev commissioned the creation of a power line construction project that would replace BRELL, a feasibility study for the construction of high-voltage lines 750 kV Leningradskaya-Belozerskaya was made, which assumes compensation for the separation of the Baltic energy systems from Unified Energy System of Russia. This project involves the construction and reconstruction of networks in the Leningrad, Pskov, Smolensk and Vologda regions. All this will require about 50 billion rubles.

What will happen with the old electrical connections?

Another question is what will happen to the old electrical connections between Lithuania - Belarus and Lithuania - Russian, Estonian - Russian. According to Balashov, strategically they still degrade as traffic generation capacity through these connections will gradually decline, although a one-time disassembly is improbable.

"I think there are pragmatic people as part of the economic authorities of the Baltic countries, who understand that, firstly, it is technically impossible to reconnect immediately. Secondly, it makes no sense to dismantle something that still functions that can be used for commercial purposes "- says Doctor of Economics.

Today, the Baltic States joins with Russia and Belarus, ten high-voltage lines 330 kV, number of lines per kW 110 and 750 line in kV, which previously linked the Ignalina nuclear power plant with the backbone network, uniting the nuclear power plants of the European part of Russia's unified energy system, says Shpenst. The total capacity of sections of the Baltic States - Russia and the Baltic states - Lithuania exceeds 3000 MB. This is a fairly high rates, the future of which is at the exit of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia of BRELL raises questions.

A. G. Lukashenko on construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant

"Hope is necessary that the economic feasibility of the Baltic states will prevail over political ambitions. But in turn, the state should provide options for the development and conversion of these lines. Of course, the risks are very high for these assets. However, it should be borne in mind that the wear of these lines is also quite high and over the years to maintain the efficient functioning of these lines costs will rise ", - the expert believes.

According to him, there are the above-mentioned alternative: to modernize existing power lines at the borders with the neighboring regions. That is, if you are currently connected to the Kaliningrad Lithuania AC lines, then the DC link can be constructed. For the European region, it is quite common practice.

For example, Russian exports to Finland from 8 to 10 billion kilovatt⋅chasov electricity, but the Finnish energy system with Russia is not synchronized. This option would allow supplies to Kaliningrad to import electricity from Lithuania even when this Baltic country is not synchronized with the Kaliningrad power system and operate on a different frequency.

"In general, in my opinion, the huge Russian and Belarusian losses can not occur due to the dismantling of existing connections, as even after changing the mode electricity trade will go, but the Baltic States will no longer be connected to the high voltage network with the states BRELL system"- He concluded the head of the department of electricity and electro St. Petersburg Mining University, Professor Vadim Shpenst.

Price energosvobody from Russia

"Energy independence from Russia", which declared the Baltic politicians have little to do with the economy and with concern for the citizens of these countries. Two bright episode in the struggle for "independence" to the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant and the purchase of liquefied natural gas in Norway show that the political elite of the Baltic concern for the welfare of citizens standing on one of the last places. In spite of all the declarations.

In the 2015, Lithuania joined the grid in Sweden and Poland. This large-scale project "energy bridges" - NordBalt power cable from Sweden and electricity Bow LitPol Link with Poland NordBablt. The project was officially approved by Lithuania and Sweden in 2013 year. It spent about 500 million euros, of which more than 250 million euros accounted for the underwater portion of the cable. 175 million euros the European Commission has allocated. Later to complete the project required more money: assistance often ask Western countries. And we collected more 58 million euros. At the end of the year 2015 the first bridge with the European Union were launched.

February 1 2016 year on energy bond between the electric systems of Lithuania and Sweden NordBalt start electricity flow. In a test mode. The power company Litgrid reported that the new marine cables should "flow" to 700 megawatts, which is enough to meet the needs of almost all the country's electricity on a warm summer day. Media wrote that electricity prices in Lithuania and Latvia on NordPool energy market began to decline, lining prices in Estonia and Finland. Arrogant policy.

However, this effect can not be eternal, and the joy of the Baltic politicians premature. The thing is that on the Nordic power exchange may increase the price of electricity: because of insufficient amounts of snow, water Scandinavian hydropower plants reduced production. According to the director Janis Enefit Boettcher, lack of water and snow can raise the final price for electricity to 3-5%. This is a small figure, but this example shows that the electricity cost may be increased in the Baltic and after leaving the pressurized BRELL other factors.

And, according to Eurostat data, the cost of electricity for the Latvian consumer of 2016-year increase of 26,8%. This was due to market liberalization and tempered "in free floating" prices.

Yet the first "most important step on the way to sync" with the EU and a break with the Russian network BRELL Baltic States has already done. In January 2017 the Lithuanian operator LitGrid reported that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will soon try to get out of the test mode BRELL. So, at the beginning of the year I started to study preparations for the attempt to work in isolation.

The Baltics will leave BRELL, despite all the economic arguments, appeals to reason and appeal to the interests of the economy and consumers. We need to accept that this part of the former Soviet Union has been cut off for us, and we can not influence the desire of the Baltic politicians to "succumb to Russia's ill will". The collapse of the USSR, which began in 1990, has not yet been economically completed. And the sooner the Russian government takes care of the energy security of Kaliningrad and the border regions, the less painful it will be for us to have a final "divorce" with the Baltic states. They chose their future in the form of a poor frontline territory themselves. And do not interfere with them.

A source: A REGNUM

Author: Anastasia Polozkova

Tags: Baltic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Energy, Economy, Electricity, Price, Analyst, Russia, the West, the European Union, the Soviet Union, Belarus, Gas

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