Press digest

2018 June 13

Elering: Desynchronisation of Baltics from Russia may be delayed

Desynchronisation of the Baltic power grids from the Russian grid could be achieved by 2025, but if a dependable solution is not agreed upon, then the switch should be delayed until one is found, said Taavi Veskimägi, CEO of the Estonian transmission system operator Elering.

"We could likely reach desynchronisation by the end of 2025, but provided that the solution that we are going to have is dependable and lasting," Veskimägi said during a presentation on the security of supply of the Estonian power grid on Tuesday. "If it is not dependable, then in our opinion it should be adjourned until a solution is found which ensures dependability to us."

According to the CEO, surveys very clearly show that two alternating current interconnections are preferable in terms of both cost and security of supply. "There is no reason for us to abandon this stance," he said. "When someone says that it is not possible to build an additional alternating current interconnection, they must also describe a solution providing the same in term of cost and security of supply. We don't know what this is; it has to be explored further by someone else."

Veskimägi noted that the Baltics are in a hurry to desynchronise as their mutual dependence with Russia will disappear when the LNG terminal in Kaliningrad goes online and Russia will thereafter be able to supply its exclave without relying on the gas pipeline that goes through Lithuania.

"Our neighbor has built its system to not be dependent on us," he said. "Putting ourselves at the systemic risk that our power grid remains dependent on the actions of a neighbor when we do not share the same worldview as said neighbor would be a foolish thing to do."

The CEO Elering added that the company has no reason to believe that Russia would urgently disconnect its electricity system from that of the Baltics. "While we are not among those who would give reason to panic, we must definitely act looking toward the future so that, should the situation worsen, we are ready for it."

The three Baltic countries were initially supposed to sign a memorandum of understanding on the synchronisation of their power supply systems with that of Continental Europe via Poland last June, but this ultimately did not happen as the four countries involved were unable to agree on how synchronisation should take place. Lithuania and Poland found that one LitPol link sufficed, while Estonia and Latvia wanted a second connection to be built.

The parties have pledged to reach agreement by the end of June. "We hope to arrive at a decision by the end of this month on what the solution for cooperation with Central Europe should be," Veskimägi said.

With a view to facilitating the conclusion of an agreement, two studies have been conducted to determine whether it is more reasonable to carry out the synchronisation of the Baltic power grids via one or two LitPol links, or using one LitPol link and the submarine connection between Lithuania and Poland.

The Baltic countries are connected with Poland by LitPol Link, with Sweden by NordBalt and with Finland by Estlink, but for historical reasons the Baltic power grid is still synchronised with the Russian-Belarusian BRELL grid.

A map illustrating electricity network connections between the Baltics and the rest of Europe.