The desynchronization of the Baltic electricity grids from the Russian IPS/UPS synchronous area and synchronization with the Continental or Nordic synchronous area is crucial for geopolitical and security reasons, the results of a study conducted by the Tallinn-based International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) found.
"Decoupling from the Russian power system and integrating into the Continental European power system is vital for national security," Estonian transmission system operator Elering CEO Taavi Veskimägi said in a press release on Friday. "This process is as important to the Baltic countries as was our accession to NATO and the EU. The synchronization process reflects our deep cooperation with other societies that share our values and way of life."
Russia is making the necessary preparations for desynchronization well ahead of the Baltic states, thereby endangering the energy security of the three countries while making them more vulnerable to geopolitical coercion. This is creating a sense of urgency in some capitals, and generating a strong political push for implementing the project, the study finds.
The Baltic countries will need to be confident that there is sufficient resilience in many dimensions of the chosen synchronous area to withstand hybrid threats posed by Russia. The study concludes that the Continental area is a more optimal choice compared to the Nordic option, as synchronization with it can be completed faster and at a lower cost.
It is important, however, that the Continental option is realized with two separate interconnections. This requires that the Baltic states and Poland agree on the prospect of building a second interconnector, in addition to the existing LitPol Link line, to enhance the physical resilience of the connection. The study also noted that the Continental area has to invest more in bolstering its cyber resilience.
Synchronizing via Poland — a NATO member state that has a strong relationship with the U.S. as well as robust posture with regard to an increasingly assertive Russia and that is keenly aware of Moscow's use of energy as a geopolitical instrument of coercion — is among the key advantages of the Continental option. At the same time, the ICDS finds that parts of the Continental area are characterized by a deteriorating internal political environment — with the rise of nationalist, euroskeptic populism and a decline in respect for the rule of law being the most concerning trends — which may potentially weaken internal EU cohesion and solidarity while providing ample opportunities for meddling, influence-building and "active measures" by Russia.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the ICDS, the GLOBSEC Policy Institute, the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence, and the Tallinn University of Technology (TTÜ) Centre for Digital Forensics and Cyber Security, with the support of Elering.
Editor: Aili Vahtla