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Reviews

Opinions 2013 11 26

Z.Balcytis : Europe should be regarded as a single unit in the energy policy

My comment is based on many reasons, the most important of which are current plans to develop nuclear energy in the Baltic Sea region: both Lithuania and Russia (Kaliningrad) are planning to build new nuclear power plants.

How many nuclear power plants EU needs?

Although nuclear power is one of the most environment-friendly energy sources
 and generates around one third of EU electricity and two thirds of its carbon-free electricity it is still not problem free  .A rigorous application of the EURATOM Treaty to safety requirements of such installations  might prevent us form modern nuclear tragedies such as Chernobyl catastrophe, but  the issue of radioactive waste has not been solved yet. We have to admit that for the time being we have no other choice but to bury the waste.

The expansion of nuclear energy in the region poses even more questions .Is Lithuania, being such a small country, capable of building a nuclear power plant? Do we have a necessity to build such a plant for the reasons of political-economic equilibrium to be able to withstand Russia's energy dictate? Will the fact that we are building our own nuclear reactor influence Russia's determination to withdraw its plans to build nuclear reactors in Kaliningrad?

To my opinion, in order to find answers to those questions, a full picture should be considered. The EU, creating internal energy market and projecting its energy demands, should have a firm say where and what type of power plants should be built in Europe to satisfy its internal market's energy demands. Such attitude would help to diminish the risk of both individual member states and the EU to investing into financially attractive but risky projects and at the same time would help to preserve the conservation of environment.

Will 20/20/20 work?

Another important energy aspect which, I believe, deserves more attention, is the question of development of renewable energy sources in the member states.

There are certain signals coming for the developers of renewable energy in Lithuania, that that  renewable energy targets set for individual member states might be too low and that certain interest groups might use this argument to block the way for the  development of  new alternative  environment-friendly energy sources .

It is quite apparent, that member states tend to deal with the renewable sector in a closed manner in reaching their 20/20/20 targets and are not too willing to apply higher requirements for the share of renewable in their energy mix   despite existing favourable conditions for a further development of green energy.

This problem could be solved if the European Commission took a greater role in analysing and providing directions and recommendations to individual member states in order to ensure that the development of the energy market both in individual member states and on the EU level is corresponding to the criteria set in the new Energy Strategy and to climate change goal .

I have mentioned only two problems which need to be tackled in a broader and more integrated context on the EU level. Taking into account  our strategic priorities and goals , such as ability to respond effectively to energy crisis , strong and united position in dealings with third countries' suppliers , interconnected infrastructure and more effective response to environmental challenges   , the attainment  of  these goals will be put at stake if we fail to act on a united and solid basis.

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