Lithuania and Hitachi-GE Partner to Build Nuclear Plant by 2020

After reviewing bids from Hitachi-GE and Westinghouse, Lithuania’s Deputy Energy Minister Romas Svedas announced in July 2011 that the government will partner with Hitachi-GE to finance and construct a plant by 2020. Svedas described the Hitachi-GE offer as “the most-economically attractive proposal.” The government also considered technology in their decision, as Hitachi-GE plans to build an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (pictured below) to generate 1300 megawatts. Lithuania and Hitachi-GE hope to complete a contract by the end of the year.[1]

Lithuania is well positioned to begin constructing new nuclear plants. Since 1983, nuclear power has been an essential component of Lithuania’s energy portfolio, but in 2009 the  European Union forced Lithuania to shut down its only nuclear power plant, which had provided 70% of the country’s electricity.[2] Furthermore, Germany will be forced to import electricity in the wake of its decision to phase out its nuclear plants by 2022. Lithuania and other Baltic states have the opportunity to fill that gap. [3]

This project highlights the strategic advantages of nuclear power for Eastern Europe and displays sustained interest in nuclear power within Europe. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius explained, “For Lithuania and the whole region it is important to have independent capacity to generate electricity…We are choosing a path that we believe is the best for Lithuania and for the whole region.”[4] The addition of nuclear power capacity represents an effort in the Baltic region to curb carbon emissions and reduce reliance on Russian natural gas and oil.  Poland, Latvia and Estonia also plan to invest in the proposed Lithuanian plant.[5]