Polish and Baltic states’ power grid operators ask EU for €1.2bn to fund syncing of their energy systems

By bne IntelliNews May 27, 2020

The Polish power grid operator PSE, together with its peers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, jointly filed for €1.2bn of EU funding to advance the project to sync the Baltic states’ grids with the rest of the EU via Poland, the operators said on May 26.

The Baltic states’ power grids are still part of the IPS/UPS grid area that is essentially a remnant of the Soviet Union, which ruled the Baltic states until the early 1990s. 

Since 2004, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been upgrading their respective power grids to enable electricity flows between themselves and neighbouring Poland, Sweden, and Finland. 

That has helped the region to end its status of an “energy island”, which stands in the way of the EU’s strategy of a bloc-wide energy union. But in terms of frequency and other technical aspects of grid functioning, the Baltic networks are still part of IPS/UPS, controlled by Russia. That is potentially a national security liability.

Poland’s grid operator PSE with Baltic peers – Lithuania’s Litgrid, AST from Latvia, and Estonia’s Elering – want the EU funding, which comes from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) instrument, to finance the construction of a second power grid link between Poland and Lithuania. 

The connection, known as Harmony Link, will be an undersea cable from the Lithuanian town of Darbenai to Poland’s Zarnowiec.

The financing will also cover building synchronous condensers – devices that stabilise power grids – as well as grid reinforcement and upgrade of IT control systems. All of that will “facilitate connecting the Baltic States with the Continental European Network," PSE said in a statement.

The CEF is an EU funding instrument, established to promote growth, jobs, and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at the bloc’s level.

It is not the first time that the four countries have applied for the CEF funding to move the grid syncing project forward. The Baltic states received €323mn from the CEF in 2018 to upgrade their electricity networks. The Harmony Link project’s preparations were also supported by €10mn in 2019. 

The process of syncing the Baltic grids with one another and with the rest of the EU via Poland is expected to complete in 2025.

 

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