Recently, there has been a lot of emphasis on energy from renewable resources, solar and wind farms, but these are not so-called baseload capacities. Namely, those that work constantly, or those that can be turned on and run when needed. For this reason, a private merchant “Fermi” in Estonia has been developing a nuclear energy project for several years.
The head of the company emphasizes that electricity prices are higher in the Baltics than in Scandinavia, and the recent breakdowns in energy interconnections in the region also show that we should also think about ourselves and our production possibilities.
Public support for nuclear energy has increased from 50% to 69% in Estonia over the past few years. The nuclear disasters in the 1980s in Chornobyl and now more than 10 years ago in Fukushima are etched in the memory of many, so the public opinion in this area is especially important.
“We see that nuclear energy is working in Finland. Estonians are educated and rational. Our winter is colder than in Latvia. And we don’t have the Daugava. We have oil shale, which we need to replace,” says Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia.
This would not be classic nuclear energy, but a new solution, the first projects of which are still being developed in the world. Such as a mini nuclear power plant or small modular reactor. Power 300 megawatts, for comparison, the total installed capacity of Riga thermal power plants is approximately 1000 megawatts.
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“Fermi” plans to install two such small reactors in northeastern Estonia. The cost is estimated at three billion euros, and it is planned that it will be private financing.
Another aspect that is starting to speak in favor of the Estonian project is electricity prices. What have they been like in the three Baltic countries over a longer period of time. Everything shows that the period of cheap electricity is over. For a long time, electricity prices fluctuated between 30 and 50 euros per megawatt hour, or three and five cents per kilowatt hour. In recent years, it is no longer the case.
Of course, we are no longer in the same frenzy as in 2022, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine shook the energy markets and in Latvia and Lithuania the average price of electricity exceeded even 200 euros per megawatt hour, but also last year, when the situation had calmed down in the markets, the price in all three Baltic countries fluctuated around 90 euros per megawatt hour or nine cents per kilowatt hour.
“Fermi” estimates that initially the price of the electricity produced at the station could be 75 euros per megawatt hour, including the cost of nuclear waste disposal. After covering the investment, the price would be much lower.
The Baltics already have experience in this field. For research purposes, the Salaspils nuclear reactor operated in Latvia, while in Lithuania, the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which has been closed for a long time, once played a huge role.