Lithuania, facing energy crunch, may extend use of controversial Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

Vytas Navickas told the Baltic News Service that if the country’s energy problems on a replacement for the Ignalina plant go unresolved then Lithuania may be forced to extend the use of the nuclear plant. Lithuania is expecting the EU to come up with an action plan by December 2008.

"Unless the energy security problems Lithuania would face after closing the Ignalina plant at the end of 2009 are solved, we will not approve the climate change program," Navickas told BNS, adding the country was seeking around 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in financial aid and higher emission quotas.

Lithuania was given EU membership in 2004 on condition the NPP was shut down in 2009. It is also committed to cutting emissions by 20% in line with all EU countries.

The replacement for Ignalina which is due to be built as part of a $3-4 billion joint project with Poland, Estonia and Latvia is unlikely to be ready before 2015. Lithuania is reluctant to close the plant and increase its reliance on Russia for energy.

Alongside Sunday’s general election in Lithuania, voters will be asked to take part in a referendum on whether to extend the life of the NPP, which provides around 6o percent of the country’s power, RIA Novosti reported.