At a cabinet meeting on 8 April, the Estonian government approved the official composition of the working group on nuclear energy, the Environment Ministry announced. The working group includes the Ministry of the Environment, the Environmental Board, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the State Chancellery. The relevant authorities have already appointed their representatives and the members of the working group were approved by the Minister of the Environment.
The working group will analyse the possibility of introducing nuclear energy in Estonia and submit its conclusions and proposals to the government no later than September 2022. According to Environment Minister Tõnis Mölder, the working group must assess Estonia’s energy needs and ensure energy security in the next 20 years. It will decide whether there would be a need for nuclear energy and how it would fit into the existing electricity network.
"In order to increase Estonia's energy security, sustainability and competitiveness, and to achieve the 2050 climate goals, the introduction of nuclear energy would be one of the possible solutions,” said Mölder. “Nuclear energy would be able to provide a round-the-clock electricity supply regardless of the weather, but the process of its introduction would be very long and would require a huge investment from the state. The difficult question of what to do with used nuclear fuel should also be solved, "
The tasks of the working group may include mapping the development trends of the neighboring countries' energy economy and opportunities for co-operation to achieve climate neutrality, he explained. The group must also analyse the technologies being developed in other countries and the projects being implemented, including potentially suitable solutions for Estonia. It must also be assessed whether the development of a nuclear power plant should be carried out by the state or the private sector, and what the possibilities exist for cooperation between the private and public sectors. In addition, the know-how and labour requirements to develop nuclear energy must be mapped.
According to Mölder, Estonia could consider the introduction of Generation IV modular reactors, which are expected to be simpler in construction, economic efficiency, reliability and safety than large nuclear power plants. He noted that the introduction of nuclear energy requires a social agreement and clear answers to people's justified questions and fears. "A science-based approach alone is not enough, the general readiness of people and society is also needed," he said.