Energy, Estonia, Good for Business, Nuclear Power

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 03.12.2020, 21:52

Estonia to establish national nuclear energy workgroup

BC, Tallinn, 06.11.2020.Print version
The government at its Cabinet sitting on Thursday discussed possibilities for the introduction of nuclear power generation in Estonia and decided that a national workgroup on nuclear energy must be established to develop a stance on the subject, reported LETA/BNS.

No decisions concerning the introduction of nuclear energy have been adopted in Estonia on the level of the state to date, as prior to it in-depth preparatory work must be done. The workgroup will start to analyze, with the help of foreign experts, the possibility of introducing nuclear energy in Estonia and will present its conclusions and proposals to the government. 

The in-depth analysis of the impacts of the introduction of nuclear energy will help the state make a prudent and informed decision, spokespeople for the government said. 


"One of potential solutions for increasing Estonia's energy security, sustainability and competitiveness and achieving the 2050 climate goals is commissioning of nuclear energy after 2030," Prime Minister Juri Ratas said, describing it as one of many possibilities for climate neutral energy production in Estonia, which deserves a broad discussion in society and in any event in-depth analyses in making further decisions.  

The introduction of nuclear energy has begun to be spoken about in Estonia foremost because, as a source of energy with a low carbon footprint, it could contribute to achieving Estonia's  climate goals for 2050. Another upside of nuclear energy is the capability to ensure round-the-clock energy supply regardless of weather conditions. One of the downsides meanwhile is the time- and resource-intensive process of commissioning of nuclear energy. 

Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk said that introduction of nuclear energy would help ensure the energy security of Estonia, while requiring major investments from the state in the construction and operation of the plant, as well as a long period of preparation.

Kokk said that alongside the production of energy, a nuclear plant can be used also for the heating of buildings and, with some technologies, it is also possible to produce hydrogen. At the same time, the establishment of a nuclear power plant entails several security and political risks. Also the question what to do with spent nuclear fuel, the handling and storage of which is complex and would require the establishment of a special storage facility in Estonia, is not unimportant. 

The commissioning of nuclear energy requires preparatory activities taking at least 10-15 years. Hence the first nuclear power plant in Estonia could start work definitely not before 2035. 

Estonia currently is lacking the legislative framework, competent institutions, as well as experts for the establishment of N-plants. Under the the Radiation Act, a radiation practice license for the operation of a new nuclear facility can be applied for only after the Riigikogu has adopted a decision on the commissioning of a nuclear facility.

Since it is not known at the moment whether Estonia could get a nuclear power plant in the future or what technology it would use, also the needs concerning the storage of nuclear waste created by such plant are not known.

The radioactive waste storage facility to be established in Estonia for the dismantling and safe storage of the training reactors of a former Soviet nuclear submarine crew training facility at  Paldiski will not be suited for the storage of nuclear fuel.

As the decision concerning the commissioning of nuclear energy is of big importance for the public, it is very important for the people to have the possibility to have a say in the process. Whether the inclusion of the public will take place in the form of a referendum or in some other form will become clear in the process of the analysis. 

The workgroup will be convened by the Ministry of the Environment in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and other relevant ministries.

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