"The difference (in efficiency) is huge, given the relatively low investment in renewable sources and the significant effect they have," Linas Balsys, president of the Lithuanian Green Policy Institute, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Balsys, former spokesman for President Dalia Grybauskaitė, said that investment in energy from renewable sources or biofuel could help create 10,000 permanent jobs in Lithuania, while the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant, when built, would create only 300 jobs, of which around half would go to Lithuanian specialists.
"It will be only during the cosntruction stage that several thousand people will be employed," he said.
Balsys said that it would cost about 2 billion litas (EUR 580 m) to convert cogeneration plants to burn biofuel.
"We can switch all of Lithuania's nine biggest cogeneration power plants to biofuel by investing much less money than is now planned for the nuclear power plant. That would cost perhaps around 2 billion litas or slightly more.
This will have to be done anyway, because under the EU directives, we will have to meet the pollution requirements starting in 2016 and will have to choose between upgrading our gas-fired power plants and converting them to burn biofuel. That would cost half as much as upgrading the existing gas-fuelled plants. Also, we could expect support from the European Union," he said.
Balsys said that a referendum on the nuclear power plant could cost about 14 million litas to stage, or a million litas if held on the same day as general elections.
Lithuania expects to build a new nuclear power plant next to the Ignalina facility, where last operating reactor was shut down in late 2009. The new plant is planned to be built in cooperation with Latvia, Estonia and Japanese company Hitachi. The government plans that actual construction on the Visaginas plant should begin in 2015 to 2016 and that the facility could start producing electricity in 2020 to 2022.