Baltic Interconnection Plan For Renewables

Eight Baltic Sea states have launched an action plan to connect Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to EU energy networks, a strategy that should boost opportunities for renewable energy development.

As part of the strategy, the European Commission plans to implement a number of energy infrastructure and market restructuring projects identified in the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP), originally floated by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in October 2008.

The Baltic Energy Interconnection Plan responds to calls for a more integrated electricity market in the Baltic region and aims to extend the liberalised Nordic electricity market model to the Baltic states as the basis for a regional market there. This could then be integrated into the Nordic one, the Commission said.

The plan also covers a number of electricity infrastructure projects to link the Baltic states and Poland with the Nordic countries, and reinforce the electricity grid between the three Baltic states. A second set of projects establish interconnections between Nordic countries, including the Fenno-Skan II project between Finland and Sweden. 

A separate set of electricity interconnections is envisaged between Poland and Germany in order to reduce “loop flows” resulting from wind generation in the North rather than in view of market integration.

“Ending the effective isolation of the Baltic States, which still form an energy island, is an urgent task to deal with. Looking at the actions and projects the plan contains and which are now endorsed by the countries of the region, I am now confident that this objective can be achieved in a mid-term perspective,” said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) welcomed the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan as a first step towards a pan-European electricity grid in the Baltic Sea region. 

“The European energy market currently looks a bit like an unfinished ‘join the dots’ picture, with some small sections that are detached from the rest,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA chief executive. “It is crucial that we join up all areas to achieve a completely interlinked internal electricity market. Only then will investors be exposed to the true risk of coal and gas, which will make wind, which avoids fuel price volatility, the most cost-effective and low-risk power source to invest in,” Kjaer added.

Nevertheless, Kjaer pointed out that the projects had already been in the pipeline for the respective TSOs for some time, saying: “A truly integrated European energy market will only be achieved when more ambitious pan-European planning is implemented by the European Network of TSOs. In which case an upgrade of the existing Poland-Sweden cable should be included in future plans.”

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