Lithuania’s president urges nuclear power amid EU debates on ‘green’ energy
Riga, Jan 5 (EFE).- Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda said on Wednesday he favored building small scale nuclear reactors as part of restructuring the Baltic country’s energy system.
“We can discuss, for example, small-scale nuclear power plants. For the time being, we have to focus on the need to produce green energy and diversify our energy sources, which we have already done to a certain extent,” Nausėda told a local radio station.
The president’s remarks come amid a debate in the European Union over a proposal that nuclear energy and natural gas be classified as “green energy” sources.
Germany has called nuclear power “dangerous” and will continue to decommission its reactors while France is open to building or upgrading to newer-generation nuclear technology considered safe.
Nauseda’s radio interview also comes as Lithuanian officials expressed concerns about the safety of the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, some 50 kilometers from the capital and almost ten years after Lithuanians rejected a new nuclear power project in a non-binding referendum.
The new nuclear power plant was proposed after Lithuania’s Soviet-designed Ignalina plant, similar to the facility in Chernobyl, was shut down in 2009 as a condition of Lithuania joining the EU in 2004.
The new nuclear power project was a joint Baltic initiative that was abandoned when Lithuania backed out after the 2012 referendum.
The shutdown of the plant removed a large part of Lithuania’s electricity generation and export capacity.
While Lithuania faces a likely energy policy debate triggered by Nauseda’s remarks, Estonia is moving ahead with preliminary work on a small scale nuclear power plant to be built by GE Hitachi, according to nuclear industry publications
The northernmost of the three Baltic countries also faces energy-supply challenges as it tries to reduce its dependence on oil shale, seen as a carbon-intensive fuel for power plants.
Meanwhile, Latvia produces around 56 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, mainly from hydropower plants along the Daugava River which runs through much of the country before flowing into the Gulf of Riga near the nation’s capital. EFE