A quarter of a century after breaking free from the Soviet Union, the Baltic states are finally getting rid of their electricity dependence too.
One of two new cables costing 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), connecting Lithuania to Poland, started on Wednesday, according to grid managers. Commercial flows on the second link from Lithuania to Sweden, big enough to eliminate the Baltic nation’s Russian imports, had been poised to start commercial operations on Wednesday too before tests were suspended Monday after a fire next to a Swedish converter station.
After last year opening eastern Europe’s first liquefied natural gas import terminal to end Russia’s monopoly on fuel supplies, the two cables are a second step toward energy independence, according to Lithuania’s Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis. Russian imports met almost half of the nation’s demand in the last quarter, grid data show.
“The fear of the Russian factor will be eliminated just as the fear of the Russian gas factor was eliminated with the start of the LNG terminal,” Masiulis said Dec. 3 in a phone interview. “We can now buy electricity from Poland, from Sweden, from Russia or Latvia or Estonia, all depends on the price.”
Power typically flows from the cheapest to the most expensive market if there are no restrictions on the grid. Nordic power prices averaged about half and Polish prices 9.1 percent below mean Lithuanian prices of 42 euros per megawatt-hour this year on the Nord Pool Spot AS exchange in Oslo.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia plan to build at least one more cable to the rest of the EU to become a full part of the European network rather than just connected to it, according to Masiulis.
“Full synchronization with EU grids would mean that our countries would be more than just islands with bridges to Europe,” Greta Monika Tuckute, director at the Centre for Geopolitical Studies in Lithuania, said by telephone.