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15.05.2017 - 16: 07

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 year in Tallinn a meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers, to discuss issues of foreign policy, security, energy and transport. Whereas the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said that his country supports the synchronization of energy systems of the Baltic states to Central Europe through Poland by economic expediency. At the same time there is an alternative - a synchronization with the power of the Nordic countries. In addition, Ratas noted that synchronization of energy systems of the Baltic States to be highly reliable and independent.

Exiting the Baltic energy ring BRELL (Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) - a political solution, many experts agree in opinion. It affects several areas at once. The main thing is that many important questions remain unclear until the end. For example, how much it will cost electricity to the final consumer after Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are turned off by the "energy ring"? Are the Baltic States to this at all? As necessary funds for reorganizing the network? And what will happen with the old connections? Will there be enough spare capacity for relations with the countries of Central Europe? How Russia will solve the problem with energy supply of the Kaliningrad region, which in the case of the Baltic exit BRELL remain cut off in terms of energy of the Russian Federation? On many of these issues intelligible, or at least no simple answers.

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

For the implementation of the Baltic plans to withdraw from BRELL takes time, suddenly not be able to rebuild the entire system. Earlier, in an interview with Sputnik Sergey Kondratyev, Deputy Head of the Economic Department of the Institute of Energy and Finance, said that the EU plans are underway on the connection and integration of energy markets, creating energy ring, which would cover the Swedish system, Finland, Poland, Germany and the Baltic states. Such projects require huge investments. According to rough estimates, it is more 500 million euros. You will need to change the entire topology of the network, because today a large part of the system is configured to supply electric power from east to west. According to the expert, the difference between the on bulk purchases that offer the Russian side, and Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark East may be $ 10-12 per megawatt-hour.

Who will allocate funds for this project? Presumably, part of the European Commission will cover the infrastructure funds. However, the main financial burden will fall on the final consumers of electricity. And not all officials support such ideas. For example, the head of the Polish Ministry of Energy Department of Energy Waldemar Lagoda noted that, apart from the fact that the project is difficult for technical reasons, to synchronize with continental Europe would require additional investment. Most funds in this regard will be spent on 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 - this is an issue on which there is no clarity. But, considering them as the main initiator of the interest still is Lithuania, I believe that at least some of the energy consumers in the territory of the Baltic republics, the cost of connectivity, most likely, it may be cheaper. The question will be about Estonia and Lithuania. Why? This can only be guessed from the fact that they "push" this project. Rather, they expect to agree on any special preferences of the European energy system, because the feasibility studies, I do not see here. Moreover, such information is not publicly available. "

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 viability of certain aspects of the Baltic exit problems of BRELL will always come up against the uncertainty of the effects of the adoption of any decision, he explained in an interview to a REGNUM head of the department of electricity and electro St. Petersburg Mining University, Professor Vadim Shpenst. He recalled that, for example, in Lithuania is not the first attempt to disconnect from BRELL. Back in 2013, the operators of power systems of the Baltic countries signed an agreement on the formation of a common market, according to which the advantage in the supply of electricity was given to the EU and third countries were obliged to trade directly with the Nordic Exchange NPS. Then Vilnius, despite the incomplete integration into the single European energy system, hastened to abandon the direct purchase cheaper Russian electricity and started to buy electricity in illiquid Lithuanian segment of the Nordic Exchange NordPool NPS (the demand far exceeded supply). Ultimately jumps in electricity prices reached 60%. As a result, Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevicius was forced to admit the error of electric energy policy in relation to Russia, and specialized structures must "rectify the situation and bring back established quotas on 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.

"As another example, in Belarus there is a surplus of electricity at night, and Lithuania has Pumped Storage Power Plant (PSPP), which can pick up these surpluses. PSPs can store excess energy produced at Belarusian plants at night when demand is low and then to give it to consumers at peak load on the grid. PSP pumps water into reservoir during low demand, and resets it at high demand. Such mutually beneficial flows are inside the ring constantly. At the same time Lithuania is actually the weakest link: it imports as much as 70% of electricity. Thus, according to IEF (Institute of Economics and Finance - Ed.), In the 2014 10,72, Lithuania consumed billion kWh, while she worked out only 4,05 billion kWh. Lithuanian power system for a heavy blow was the closure of the EU demand was built during the Soviet era Ignalina nuclear power plant. In Latvia the situation is much better, it imports only one-third of electricity (2,32 billion kWh at consumption 7,37 billion kWh). Latvia seasonally surplus-deficient. In the spring during the flood it is usually self-sufficient in electricity fully, and in the remaining time of purchase. Estonia is in principle energoprofitsitnoy due to its hydroelectric power station and is engaged in the export of electricity to Latvia, Finland and even Russia. In addition, Lithuania and Latvia have large thermal generating capacity to the power station, but they did not upload them at full capacity, as electricity generation are more expensive and more profitable to buy it in Russia, for example. All thermal power plants in the Baltics run on gas, and it is an expensive commodity 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.

"Before the year 2025 isolated area - Kaliningrad - should seriously prepare, because the flows are not possible with Russia. Will either have to be synchronized with the European networks, or to work in stand-alone mode, that in terms of technology is extremely unsafe, should be spare capacity. These activities will be implemented, spare capacity will be developed. The controller will try to reach an agreement with either Poland or the Baltic states with the order that it was backed up with someone, and to be able to support the emergency overflow. Directly on consumers is not affected, but the financial burden is likely to fall on the main European zone of Russia. These activities will not free "- he said in an interview to a REGNUM CEO energorazvitiya Fund.

Power supply of Kaliningrad in the Baltic exit conditions of BRELL - most difficult subject, which is not just concerned IA REGNUM. We recall only that two years ago, President Vladimir Putin has decided that it is necessary to provide reliable energy supply to the Kaliningrad region in various modes. In March, the script development of gas thermal power plant in the city of Sovetsk (2016 MW) was developed 160 year, in a suburb of Kaliningrad, the village Prigolskom (440 MW) and in Gusev on 160 MW and the coal thermal power plant "Maritime" near the town of Bright as a backup. Another planned construction 250 kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines connecting new power plants to the existing network, fully upgrade the network in the eastern region, between substations in the Soviet 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 time, why the application of Lithuania are quite sharp and technically and economically not supported. The project to build four local thermal power plant in the Kaliningrad Region is scheduled for implementation by the end of the year 2018. Lithuania also said that they are already in the year 2017 ready to connect to the European electricity grid. Accordingly, the energy blockades create problems for several million customers in the Kaliningrad region. A matter of time: what will happen faster. I suspect that all the same will happen soon transition of Lithuania is not the European energy system. In this case, for some time, probably, we will observe in the territory of the Kaliningrad enclave situation, in part similar to what is happening on the territory of the Russian Crimea, then there is some power outages that have taken place 1,5-2 years ago, in the Crimea. Then it will all 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.

"Really only nuclear power could provide cheap energy region, and eventually to export electricity to Poland. It must be remembered that the supply of additional gas and coal in Kaliningrad is only possible through the territory of Lithuania, and, therefore, the construction of additional thermal power station area does not cease to be the hostage of its enclave position. Also, please note that delivery technology, storage and liquefaction and liquefaction of gas is not cheap. And if we talk about the future economic development of the area, without a source of cheap electricity it will be impossible ", - 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 until 40% bandwidth between the energy systems of the Center and the North-West of Russia ensured the Baltic countries networks. Shpenst explains that, according to the Federal Grid Company (FGC), because of the energy ring gap may be reduced strategic positions TEK Russia in the European region, also reduced the export of electricity, further reducing energy production at the Russian stations. After the summer 2016, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed to create a transmission line construction project, which would be replaced BRELL was made "a feasibility study for the construction of high-voltage lines 750 kV Leningrad - Belozerskaya", which involves the payment department 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 take 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.

Baltic States out of 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 cut off for us, and affect the desire of politicians to the Baltic states' suicides spite of Russia "we are not able to. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which began in the year 1990, cost is still not finished. And the earlier the Russian government to attend to the problem of energy security and border regions of Kaliningrad, the less painful the final "divorce" with the Baltic states will be held for us. His future as an impoverished frontal area of ​​their choice. You do not have them in this way.

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