As part of energy security studies, the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) launched a new project to explore how development of nuclear energy in Estonia may impact its foreign and security policy interests and relations with strategic partners such as the US. The study will be conducted in cooperation with Fermi Energia.
The study will map both potential risks to advancing those interests through nuclear energy cooperation—including in relations with various EU and regional actors—and identify actions and instruments necessary to mitigate them as well as to enhance potential benefits.
“Cooperation in nuclear energy technology can enhance not only commercial and technological interactions but also security and foreign policy ties between countries,” Tomas Jermalavičius, head of studies at the ICDS notes. “This is of particular importance to countries like Estonia that seek the greater involvement of main allies such as the US in the Nordic-Baltic area as a way to counter geopolitical pressure from Russia and China.”
During the last years, the ICDS has looked into hybrid threats posed by Kremlin’s nuclear energy projects in Europe, including Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus; analysed the impact of the 2018-19 election cycle on energy security and climate policies in the Baltic states, Poland and Finland; proposed recommendations for future-proofing of Estonia’s energy security and regional natural gas market; critically reviewed existing gas supply options to the three Baltic states, including LNG supplies; and highlighted how Baltic desynchronisation from the Russian power grids is not only an energy project, but also a major geopolitical endeavor with significant political and security implications; etc.
Cooperation with Fermi Energia which is exploring possibilities of building a new generation nuclear power plant in Estonia, based on small modular reactors licensed in Canada, UK, and the US, will provide ICDS with data on the latest developments in this field necessary for comprehensive analysis of its implications to Estonia’s strategic partnerships.
Estonia’s plans for decarbonisation rely, to a large extent, on transition to renewable energy sources in generating electricity. Similar aspirations and trends, driven by the EU’s Green Deal and its 2050 climate-neutrality objectives, are manifesting across the entire Nordic-Baltic region. At the same time, concerns remain about the looming electricity deficits and high prices across the region that will be further aggravated by a growing demand in sectors undergoing electrification (e.g. transport).
One of the options being considered for the future energy strategy of Estonia is adopting nuclear energy, in the form of Small Modular Reactors to provide stable baseload capacity and ensure security of supply – not only nationally but in all three Baltic states. Estonian government has set up an interagency Nuclear Energy Working Group to explore this option and prepare its assessment by autumn 2022.