Lithuania picks Hitachi for 1.3 GW nuclear plant

Hitachi and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, its joint venture with GE, have been selected for the 1.3 GW Visaginas nuclear power plant project in Lithuania.

Lithuania picked Hitachi over Westinghouse, its rival for the bid, as offereing “the most economically attractive proposal”, said the country’s deputy energy minister Romas Svedas.

Hitachi-GE is now expected to supply an ABWR design reactor. A contract is scheduled to be signed by the year-end to enable the plant to be online by 2020.

As “strategic investor” Hitachi is expected to share financing of the new plant ” forecast to cost EUR3-5b ($4-7) ” in which it may be offered as much as 51 per cent.

Estonia, Latvia and Poland are regional partners with Lithuania in the project, which should increase security of energy supply in all four nations.

The new plant will replace the Ignalina nuclear facility closed at the end of 2009 as part of Lithuania’s entry into the European Union. The closure has made the country an energy importer with heavy dependence on Russia, the sole supplier of its natural gas.

Lithuania’s president has accused Gazprom of charging the state higher gas prices than its neighbours for political reasons. Dalia Grybauskaite also signed a law this month to unbundle her country’s gas supplies, which would challenge Gazprom as the owner of 37.1 per cent of Lithuania’s gas mains company Lietuvus Dujos.

Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) withdrew a bid to build the nuclear plant last year.

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