Visaginas NPP

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Visaginas NPP is a regional project intended to provide electricity for Lithuania instead of in 2009 closed Ignalina NPP. As of October 2013, there are 3 regional partners - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia involved in the project, in addition to strategic investor GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. NPP would be jointly owned by Japanese company Hitachi and Japanese American company GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (20 percent shares), and state owned companies Lietuvos Energija (owned by the Republic of Lithuania) (38 percent), Latvenergo (owned by the Republic of Latvia) (20 percent) and Eesti Energia (owned by the Republic of Estonia) (22 percent). In 2012, Lithuanian citizens voted against building a new NPP in the country. However, high level talks about building the plant continue. The estimated price is 17 billion Litas (4,9 billion Euros).


contact details of critical groups working against this facility

  • group name, phone, email, website, postal address
  • NGO "Community Atgaja"
phone: +370 699 33661
email: info AT[1]
  • NGO "Susivienijimas ŽALI.LT"
phone: +370 654 73926
email: zali.vilnius AT[1]
  • Public Enterprise "Green Policy Institute"
phone: +370 5 213 1353
email: info AT[1]



The city of Visaginas is situated in the northeast of Lithuania, 150 km from Vilnius and 8 km from the border with Latvia. It was founded in 1975 for the workers of the Ignalina NPP on the shores of Lake Visaginas and was named Sniečkus. Four villages had been demolished for that workers' town, with the biggest one of them known as Visaginas.[2]

Proposals to construct a new NPP at the old Ignalina NPP site, that had been closed in accordance with Lithuania's accession agreement to the EU[3] at the end of 2009, have been made since 2007[4]. First discussions regarding new reactors started already in the 1990s and were continued in the 2000s[3]. In October 2011, the Lithuanian government informed the European Union about their construction plans[5]. In June 8, 2012 European Commission issued a positive opinion about the project [6].

The main reason Visaginas NPP proponents give for building new NPP in Lithuania is supposed energetic independence from Russia [7].

The Visaginas Nuclear Plant Company have been set up by electricity companies of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland on July 30, 2008 to be responsible for the construction of the new NPP. Poland later withdrew from the project. It is supposed to be a 1,300 MW boiling water reactor[5] while earlier a maximum capacity of up to 3,400 MW distributed over two reactors had been announced[3]. On July 14, 2011[5] the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has been selected as a strategic investor of the project.[4] The estimated construction costs is 5 billion Euros[3]. However, given interest, inflation and expenses caused by changes in the value of investments it is likely that the costs will be 6.8 billion Euros [8].

On October 14th, 2012, 62,6 percent of Lithuanian citizens, who attended a nation-wide consultative referendum, voted "No" on a statement “I am in favor of constructing a new nuclear power plant in the Republic of Lithuania”. After that, Lithuanian politicians were trying to downplay the results of the referendum, questioning the legal consequences of the referendum. The results of the referendum are legally binding according to the Law on Referendum [9]. Following the referendum, Lithuanian Parliament formed a special working group in the Parliament, to suggest how to implement the results of the referendum [10]. The working group suggested that the Government should prepare the most cost-optimal and consumer friendly strategy of electricity supply for Lithuania [11]. Following that, the Government formed a work group to analyze the project and to propose the most cost-optimal and consumer friendly model of Lithuanian energy supply system. The chairperson of the group was Energy Minister Jaroslavas Neverovičius [12]. Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI), which was consulted by the working group, concluded that flexible non-nuclear scenario would be more beneficial to Lithuania [13]. According to LEI, such issues as the problem of spent nuclear fuel management or the risk of catastrophies have to be evaluated, when assessing the possibility to buid such a power plant [14].

The group has concluded that it is not possible to evaluate now, what impact Visaginas NPP might have to sinchronization of European grid, as well as it is not possible to evaluate the questions of Visaginas NPP power reserve [15]. The working group proposed the "balanced and diversified energy self-provision scenario", based on "safe nuclear energy development", together with renewables. local CHP energy development, diversified gas supply sources and diversified import [16]. The work group stated that continuation of Visaginas NPP project is possible only if it meets "additional conditions": a) if expenses, responsibilities and risks are shared between Regional Partners and this is established in legal agreements; b) if financing is ensured at the lowest costs; c) if "sustained and comprehensive public awareness of the project" is ensured, "considering the fact that the project can be implemented only if national agreement on rational, competitive, sustainable and perspective electricity supply is in place." [17]. Following this statement, Lithuanian Government continued talks with "Hitachi". The reactor constructor said that they will improve economic conditions of the project [18]. In October 2013, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius announced that he sees possibilities to improve the project, while Deputy Energy Minister Aleksandras Spruogis has declared that the project has already been improved and the project now is competitive [19]. Few days later, the CEO of "Lithuanian Energy" Dalius Misiūnas said that the project was improved, but is not yet commercially viable; according to him, new nuclear NPPs either in Lithuania or in Europe will need to be subsidized [20].

In November 2012, Lithuanian Public Procurement Office determined that the "Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant Company" unlawfully bought additional legal services, business consulting, financial advisor and media planning services, by choosing direct agreement as a mean of procurement [21].

Despite Latvia and Estonia are officially the partners of the project, there has been a certain reluctancy demonstrated by them towards the project. For example, on November 2013, the director of Estonian energy company "Elering" said that the project is not necessary for the region [22].

The Temporary Parliamentary Commission, which analysed former, conservatory government's work in the energy sector, on March 25th, 2014, suggested to turn to Prosecutor General's Office over 8 possible corruption cases. [23] Two before the trial investigations on Visaginas NPP are already being undertaken.[24]

The member of the Commission Valdas Vasiliauskas said that the new reform in Lithuania's energy sector was performed by the same lawyer and auditor companies, which served scandalous "LEO LT" (the project harshly criticised by Kubilius Government and President Grybauskaitė). According to Vasiliauskas, „Lawin“ and „Ernst & Young Baltic“ completed the reform, and after that some persons from „Ernst & Young Baltic“ were delegated to important posts in energy companies. "This is at least conflict of interest", - said Vasiliauskas to Lithuanian internet daily[25]

According to former PM Andrius Kubilius, if the conclusions of the Commission would be taken into account, that would mean that most of the projects have to be stopped immediately.[26]

On March 29th, 2014, Lithuanian political parties signed agreement which commits to complete Visaginas NPP "as soon as possible". In the presence of Ukraine-Russia crisis, new nuclear power plant is being promoted more strongly as solution for energy independence from Russia. [27].

In 2020-2022 the NPP is supposed to be ready to be connected to the grid[3].

  • An international anti-nuclear conference focusing on the new NPP construction plans of Lithuania, Belarus and Kaliningrad (Russia) took place in Vilnius (LT) on December 6-8, 2011

Further information resources

Media coverage

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 For protection against automatical email address robots searching for addresses to send spam to them this email address has been made unreadable for them. To get a correct mail address you have to displace "AT" by the @-symbol.
  2. as at October 15, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 as at October 15, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 as at October 15, 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 as at October 15, 2011
  28. composition by Bernd Ebeling, as at August 29, 2012
    source: World Nuclear Industrial Status Report 2012, Schneider, M. et al.; Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, IAEA, Vienna, 2008