Thursday, October 18, 2012

Will Lithuania's Referendum Stop the Construction of a New Nuclear Power Plant?

Hitachi's spokesman says the referendum result was "regrettable", according to Daily Yomiuri Online (English).

This referendum is "consultative", meaning it doesn't have the enforcing power. The government will have one month to decide on the resolution. (Wikipedia: Referendums in Lithuania)

Only a minor bump in the road for Hitachi, most likely.

From Daily Yomiuri Online in English (10/17/2012; emphasis is mine), which has more information than the article that appeared in Japanese Yomiuri (10/15/2012):

Hitachi's nuclear plan hits bump / Lithuania referendum on construction project could hurt export strategy

A Lithuanian referendum result has cast a shadow over Hitachi Ltd.'s strategy to increase sales from its nuclear business--and could affect other Japanese companies in the nuclear industry.

Hitachi has signed a provisional contract with the Lithuanian government to construct a nuclear plant in the Baltic nation. But in a nonbinding referendum held Sunday, 62 percent of Lithuanian voters rejected the project, a result that could make the Lithuanian government review it.

A Hitachi spokesman said the result of the referendum was "regrettable."

"We'll closely watch how the Lithuanian government responds to the result," the spokesman added.

Hitachi signed a provisional contract with the Lithuanian government in July 2011 to construct the latest model of a boiling water reactor in Visaginas, eastern Lithuania. The project will cost 400 billion yen to 500 billion yen, and the Lithuanian government plans to use the reactor to supply electricity to all three Baltic countries, including Estonia and Latvia, from the early 2020s.

The Lithuania deal was the first inked by a Japanese company to build a nuclear reactor overseas since the crisis began at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. The contract showed the safety of Japan's nuclear technology was recognized internationally, to a certain degree.

Hitachi plans to increase sales of its nuclear businesses from 160 billion yen in March to 360 billion yen in March 2021. However, observers said the company will have to revise its strategy if Lithuania does a U-turn on its nuclear policy.

Other Japanese nuclear power plant companies are concerned the result in Lithuania might affect sentiment in more nations considering building nuclear reactors.

Toshiba Corp. is competing for an order to build a nuclear plant in Turkey with South Korea, Canada and other countries. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is trying to export a nuclear power reactor to Jordan.

As these companies have no prospect of building a new nuclear plant in Japan since the government reviewed the nuclear energy policy after the Fukushima crisis, they must try to expand their businesses overseas.

However, some experts said the real issue of Lithuania's referendum was the massive spending that would be required for the construction at a time of financial difficulties, not the government's nuclear policy itself.

Many developing countries, including Lithuania, need to increase their power supply to sustain economic growth.

"Those countries have high expectations for nuclear plants that can stably supply a huge amount of electricity," an official of a Japanese nuclear company said.

I think I know what's coming next: a massive amount of interest-free loan from the Japanese government to Lithuania so that it can afford to have a state-of-the-art nuclear power plant.

Newsweek/Bloomberg article says the Lithuanian referendum result may prompt Estonia to commission a second oil shale-fired power unit.

Estonia's oil shale deposits account for 90% of Estonia's power source, and 17% of total deposits in the European Union, according to wiki.


Maju said...

It should be difficult to push ahead against 60% of nays. Lithuania (and Estonia) should look to other energy sources like wind and solar.

Atomfritz said...

This will become interesting.

If the Lithuanian government decides against popular vote, people will learn what "democracy" really means.

In Germany, the constitution imposed by the allied occupators allows parliamentarians to take bribes to make them vote like the payers want.

Depending on the subject, such a bribe can cost much.

One rare case that got public was the Steiner-Wienand case, which revealed that quite some West German parliamentarians took bribes, for example from the East German secret service ("Stasi"). Even the Soviet KGB was willing to invest millions in bribes to prevent a stop of the relaxation policy in the 1970s.

(see also: )

Why should Lithuanian parliamentarians be more corruption-resistant than West German ones?

So, I somehow can imagine well that Monsanto, Goldman Sachs and the like have probably very big influence in US politics, too.

Anonymous said...

I doubt anything less than 110% nays would effect any decision especially when the poll was "consultative" (ie useless). The real factor is cost (mostly in overruns) and the long lead time before the plant can start generating power. Lithuania operated 2 Chernobyl styled reactors from 1983 to 2004 & 2009. These plants were only shutdown as a condition of joining the EU with the EU providing the funds for the decommissioning. If the the Lithuanian's kept two RBMK's running for decades after the Chernobyl disaster I doubt they fear nuclear power.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the Lithuanian who voted against Visaginas will change their mind if provided a low interest loan. In fact I doubt they said no out of financial concerns -- althought those alone would be a good reason.
I wonder who are the experts pro-nuke Yomiuri is referring to in the highlighted passage...

Anonymous said...

"The head of Lithuania’s opposition Social Democrats, who expect to win today’s election, stepped back from previous disapproval of a swift adoption of the euro and building a nuclear power plant".

"We are only against this project, which was rushed through parliament without a proper debate or competent economic valuation, but we are not against nuclear power in Lithuania,” Butkevicius told reporters after voting. “We need to behave responsibly.”

Lithuanians not against nuclear power, but against Visaginas NPP - analysts

Like I said you don't run two Chernobyls for decades if you fear nuclear power. The only thing the Lithuanians fear is cost this plant may not be built but a NPP will eventually replace the two they shutdown especially as electricity prices rise the predicted %30 due to the shutdowns.

Atomfritz said...

Lithuania only pays 5% of the INPP decommissoning costs, the rest is paid by the EU, according to the Wikipedia article anon 5:29 mentions.

And probably the EU will have to add some more money:

And, Lithuania will pay only 6% of the construction cost of the new Visaginas NPP:

Can they really afford to reject this offer?
Lithuanian politicians will say people lack "deep consideration", like the Japanese politicians say, I guess.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Thanks guys for the links... So the Japanese government IS footing the bill to the tune of hundreds of millions dollars through their 100%-government owned financial institutions.

What a joke. That government is beyond broke, but have money to promote nuclear energy.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Lithuanians were even allowed to vote on the nonbinding referendum makes them more democratic than Shizuoka, Tokyo or Osaka, which all denied their citizens the opportunity to make their voices clearly heard.

I remain hopeful that the Lithuanian government will heed the wishes of its people. It would be a good lesson for the world, and a great credit to their government.

Anonymous said...

It seems the Green movement in Lithuania is mostly concerned with the Baltic sea anti-nuclear activities are last on their list.

(In case the link above doesn't work)

Then there is this:

"Anti‐nuclear movements in Armenia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia, where the USSR's nuclear power installations were situated, blossomed in the perestroika period of the late 1980s, but this explosion of popular concern proved short‐lived. In the earlier part of this period, activists pursuing radical (including nationalist) agendas often improved their access to key mobilizations resources by hiding behind issues that were more acceptable to power‐holders. However, with the breakup of the Soviet Union the link between nationalist and environmental concerns was broken, and weakened environmental movements are confronted now with governments that have a new interest in promoting the nuclear power option."

Something to keep in mind is before Lithuania closed it's NPP's it was a power exporter and after the USSR broke up it became very lucrative to sell power to their newly independent neighbors. It's pretty easy to become addicted to "free money". It doesn't help that Belarus is looking to build new nuclear plants to steal Lithuania's former customers in addition to making Lithuania a paying customer.

Anonymous said...

If Lithuania does honor the wishes of their people, I might just plan a vacation there sometime. Maybe even invest some money in their economy.

Tokyo to Vilnius via Copenhagen on Scandanavian Airlines costs 120,000 yen round trip. Hotel Shakespeare sounds very nice at 9,000 yen per night.

Sounds like it could be a great change of scenery:

http:// www. /en/tourism /vilnius-for-you/1-2-3-days-in-vilnius/

(spaces added in URL to avoid automated filters. remove or retype before checking link)

Patrick Sullivan said...

What is the truth about free energy? Have you read "Free Energy Here and Now and Then: Velocity Power Sources"

Have you ever read of the discovery proving the presence of free energy that was accomplished by Alexander Graham Bell in 1855?

How about The puzzling experience of A Top scientist of the time, Henry Rowland (1848-1901), who could not explain how a Free Energy driven table saw that he examined in 1871 was able to do it, but reported it was true; table saw continued to run with only free energy to it. How did it do it?

Here's a link that will take you to it. Or read it on kindle. Velocity Power Sources. They're the real thing.

Anonymous said...

"Analysts, however, said Lithuania could still find ways to decrease its energy dependence on Russia without having to build a €5-billion nuclear plant, perhaps by completing a terminal to import liquefied natural gas.

"In fact, a liquefied gas terminal creates much more serious competition for Moscow than a nuclear power plant," said Vidmantas Jankauskas, a professor at Gediminas Technical University in Vilnius, the capital.

He said the offshore gas terminal, which Lithuania hopes to complete by 2014, is expected to handle up to 4 billion cubic meters per year, more than enough to meet the country's annual gas needs."

Source AP:


Anonymous said...

The Power Engineering article "Lithuanians not against nuclear power, but against Visaginas NPP - analysts" is originally from TASS, the Russian news agency.

Note that Russia is trying to build NPP installations in Belarus that would be "partially competitive with Visaginas" (

Furthermore, the TASS article mentions analysts opinions, rather than Lithuanians' (e.g. opinion polls).

Unless better evidence is provided I guess it is fair to assume that Lithuanians are against nuclear power, not just Visaginas -- either for economical reasons or because they have witnessed Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, both of which are excellent reasons.

Also there is a chance that the situation in Lithuania might be similar to Japan and Italy: the government wants npps, people do not.


Anonymous said...

PLEASE! Velocity Power Sources is TOTAL BS! Free energy is so easy that nobody is doing it. I've seen tons of laughable claims but Nnever even one that was verifiable. Don't get me wrong Tesla was a genius and I belonged to the Tesla Society back in my youth but 20 years of following members claims has shown me if Tesla had free energy secrets they died with him.

Patrick, the fact Henry Rowland couldn't explain an obvious hoax doesn't prove a saw ran on free energy. There were lot's of scientist that believed in cold fusion until they couldn't replicate the experiment. Science is based on experiments that can be reproduced anything else is extraneous BS. The same goes for Alexander Graham Bell as far as science is concerned if he didn't leave a reproducible result then his free energy tale is no better than a Harry Potter fable. BTW, did you know Bell believed that contact with the dead was a reality? He was also a big proponent of eugenics.

Unless you are willing to show us your free energy generator powering your house 24/7/365 you're just wasting peoples time. Actually since the power is free shouldn't you be powering your entire neighborhood and putting it on youtube?

Unknown said...

This is a binding referendum, politicians just are presenting it as non-binding. Apparently, they did not read the Referendum law. This is binding, though it had the title of consultative(advisory) referendum.

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