Baltics apply for EU funding for power grid synchronisation

High voltage power line.
High voltage power line. Source: Pärnu Postimees/Scanpix

The Baltic power transmission system operators (TSOs) on Wednesday submitted an application to the European Commission for EU funding for the first stage of the synchronisation of the Baltic power grids with the Continental European system.

Investments in the synchronisation project will be divided into three stages. In the first stage, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will upgrade their domestic transmission networks, Estonian transmission system operator Elering said.

In Estonia, 330 kilovolt transmission lines starting in Narva and heading to Latvia via Valga account for most of the investments of the project's first stage. The estimated size of the investments of the first stage is €187.7 million.

Elering CEO Taavi Veskimägi said that the upgrading of these transmission lines that are nearing the end of their useful life will allow for the strengthening the north-south power link.

"Joining the electricity system of Continental Europe should mean for Estonian consumers lower network fees in the future as a result of the EU co-financing that is being sought, compared to if the present situation were to continue," Veskimägi highlighted. "These investments into the modernisation of the Estonian electricity system would have to be made even if we were to continue as part of the Russian electricity system."

As part of the project, Elering will reconstruct the Balti Power Plant-Tartu, Tartu-Valmiera and Viru-Tsirguliina 330 kilovolt overhead lines, overhaul control systems and install new voltage stabilisation equipment. The overhaul will increase the throughput capacity between Estonia and Latvia by 700 megawatts.

The three Baltic countries are asking for €432.5 million in funding for this stage of the project, which is estimated to cost €1.5 billion in total. The EU is expected to cover 75% of the cost.

The European Commission is expected to decide about the financing application in 2019.

From BRELL to Central Europe

The approved technical scenario calls for synchronising the Baltic power grids via the existing LitPol Link interconnection between Lithuania and Poland and a new submarine cable between the two neighbouring countries, as well as for installing synchronous compensators at hydro power plants in the three Baltic states, officials in Lithuania said.

The three Baltic countries and Poland signed a political agreement on the power grid synchronisation in late June and their transmission grid operators filed an application for synchronisation in September. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

The Baltic grids are currently still part of the post-Soviet BRELL ring, which also includes Russia and Belarus, and remain dependent on the control centre in Moscow and the Russian electricity system.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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