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Switching Harmony Link to land-based cable to speed up decoupling from Russian grid

Electricity pylon (photo is illustrative).
Electricity pylon (photo is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The planned de-synchronization of Estonia's electricity grid from that operated by the Russian Federation received a boon Tuesday after a European Union high-level agreement will see a cable connecting Lithuania to Poland being constructed on dry land.

The cable, originally planned to run under the Baltic, will be quicker to construct as a result, meaning the de-synchronization may take place in early 2025, whereas it had been scheduled for the end of that year.

Estonia on Tuesday joined Latvia, Lithuania, Poland in Brussels, along with the European Commission, in signing a declaration to expedite the decoupling process of Baltic electricity grids from the Russian and Belarusian BRELL system.

The three Baltic states are the last EU nations still synchronized with BRELL, and while the intention had long been to disconnect from this and sychnronize with the EU "continental" system, Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine from February last year brought an added urgency to this.

Estonia's European commissioner, Kadri Simson (Center), said the Baltic states will gain full control over their own electricity grid with the development, which she called: "A very positive message for system security.

"This agreement included a solution to the existing Harmony Link," she added, talking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

"This is an alternating current connection originally planned as a submarine cable, but now an agreement has been reached which will see it run parallel to the Rail Baltica corridor, giving the opportunity to build the necessary alternating current cable significantly faster than would have been the case with an underwater connection," the commissioner went on.

Climate Minister Kristen Michal (Reform) told AK that: "Harmony Link has been discussed at the highest national levels. The technical aspect and design lie aheadm but the most important thing is still the principle whereby we can say that we are no longer discussing its running under the sea, but instead following the Rail Baltica corridor, which is significantly safer, more cost-effective and technically faster to implement."

The actual route of the Harmony Link, crossing the border between Poland and Lithuania, was also agreed upon on Tuesday.

Lithuania's grid distributor Litgrid inked an agreement with its Polish counterpart PSE almost five years ago to the day, with a view to work for the Harmony Link to start in 2023, and finish in 2025.

This summer, work started on a transmission station at Darbėnai, in the Northwest of Lithuania.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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