Two new electricity interconnections connecting Lithuania to Poland and Sweden have been officially inaugurated today.
The LitPol Link connects Alytus in Lithuania with Elk in Poland and the Nordbalt links up Nybro in Sweden and Klaipeda in Lithuania. These two links will add 1200 MW of interconnection capacity to the region. This means that, for the first time, the electricity markets of the Baltic States will be connected to the Swedish and Polish electricity networks. Before these projects were completed, the Baltic Sea region was connected to the EU electricity market via just two connections – Estlink 1 and 2 - which run between Finland and Estonia.
"In a true Energy Union there is no room for energy islands and electricity has to be able to flow freely across borders. Today we are taking a significant step forward in bringing more security of supply for electricity consumers in the region and in boosting competition on the electricity market," Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said.
The new interconnections will significantly increase the interconnection level of Poland, and of the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which are considered as one entity when it comes to their integration into the EU electricity market. Prior to the building of LitPol Link and Nordbalt, both Poland and the Baltic countries did not meet the minimum EU 10% interconnection target.
"These two new electricity interconnections mark an important milestone in integrating the Baltic States and Poland with the rest of the European electricity market. They will have a huge impact on the European electricity network, reaching well beyond the three EU countries they directly involve," said Lithuanian Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, responsible for health and food safety, at the inauguration ceremony in Vilnius.
LitPol Link featured on the Commission's list of Projects of Common Interest, which gave it access to a €27 376 500 Connecting Europe Facility grant for works carried out in Lithuania. It also benefitted from the EU's structural funds for construction works carried out in Poland, a loan from the European Investment Bank of €55 million and a Nordic Investment Bank loan of €50 million. LitPol Link will also boost energy security for Lithuania and Northern Poland.
Nordbalt will help develop the electricity market in the Baltic Sea region. The project has been granted €131 million under the European Energy Programme for Recovery. Nordbalt will also help hydro energy produced in Nordic countries to flow towards Lithuania and the other two Baltic countries.
Back in 2008, the Baltic countries were effectively an 'energy island'. This situation gave rise to the creation of the Baltic Energy Market Integration Plan (BEMIP) under which LitPol Link and Nordbalt were identified as priority projects.
Currently, the Baltic electricity grid is synchronised with the Russian and Belorussian grids. The interconnections inaugurated today could lay the technical foundations for synchronising the Baltic electricity grid with the rest of Europe.
*Image source: Litgrid