Friday, February 29, 2008

Estonia's nuclear ambitions

There's been talk in the press recently about whether or not Estonia should build it's own nuclear power plant. To me this is an odd questions so I started reading up on it a bit.

Estonia has always been electricity independent thanks to it's abundance of oil shale deposits in the east and the large power plants near Narva which provide more than enough power for the country and even a little left over to sell to neighbors.

In 2013 the EU electricity market opens up and due to the dirty nature of Estonia's electricity generation it will become prohibitively expensive to produce power (they charge a high CO2 tax on oil shale). So Eesti has started looking into alternative methods to get electricity. The past couple of years Eesti Energia has been talking with the Lithuanians about a partnership to build a new plant in Ignelina where there is a plant right now that has to be shut down shortly due to EU regulations. Apparently the negotiations haven't gone so well, the Poles want a large part of the generation and small Eesti may get pushed out of the deal. Eesti has also asked the Finns whether they can be a part of any future projects in the north since Finland has a number of nukes already running, this option doesn't look likely as they are in the process of building a plant and probably won't need a new one anytime soon.

Because none of these partnerships seem to be working the government has decided to investigate whether building their own, small nuke plant would be a good idea. A couple of locations out on the eastern coast have been mentioned and there is talk of taking the CO2 money that they'll be making in the next couple of years and investing it in a plant that will ensure the future of Estonia's electrical independence.

Does Estonia really need to spend the money to build a plant? Are there no other alternatives? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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2 Comments:

Blogger nipi said...

water is clearly out - too little resources and probably too high impact on smaller rivers if building a water powerstation.
wind - possibility, but unfortunately not too stable, especially problematic in deep winter as the coldest days are even w/o wind. Also the max possibility of wind energy use is said at ca 20% of total need.

on other options there seems that no other well-enough engineered-through options available
- use temperature-differences with deep layers of earth - the difference lays too deep, we are not in Iceland
- temperature-differences in sea - too little resources

What remains if not nuclear?

3:08 AM  
Blogger AndresS said...

Indeed, there aren't many alternatives. I noticed how you didn't bother mentioning solar. Clearly not an option in estonia. :)

9:24 AM  

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