Lithuania seeks to end dependence on Russia with wind plan

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Ilaria Valtimora
July 16, 2018
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Lithuania seeks to end dependence on Russia with wind plan

The wind community has welcomed the National Energy Independence Strategy approved by the Lithuanian government last month.

With its new energy plan, Lithuania aims to produce 70% of the electricity it uses by 2030, with 45% from renewables. By 2050, the country wants all of its electricity to be produced by renewables, with wind set to account for up to 55% of it.

This sounds like a very ambitious plan, considering that wind currently accounts for only 3.9% of the country’s energy needs. It has total capacity of 493MW and did not add a single turbine last year, though plans to do more onshore and offshore.

However, Lithuania’s new plan should be the incentive for wind investors to do more. WindEurope has estimated that it should lead to installed wind capacity in the nation growing to 750MW by 2022, 1GW by 2025 and 1.3GW by 2030.

For Lithuania, increasing the amount of renewables in its energy mix is not the only goal. Most importantly, the new strategy makes renewables a key tool to reduce the country’s reliance on Russia: Lithuania’s energy dependence rate in 2017 was 73%, well above the European Union average of 53%. In fact, energy has always been a powerful reminder for Lithuania of its past as part of the Soviet Union.

The country has been struggling with its dependence on other countries since 1990, and this worsened with the decommissioning in 2009 of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which used to meet 77% of the country’s electricity needs.

As a result, Lithuania has had to import almost all of its energy from Russia. These imports are mainly made up of natural gas, for which the Baltic country pays some of the highest prices in Europe. The construction of renewables projects for Lithuania means independence and lower energy tariffs.

This also means that the government must show more commitment in promoting renewables than it has so far.

For example, the country’s onshore wind sector has stalled since 2015. That year, the government held an auction for onshore wind capacity in order to comply with its target of installing 500MW of onshore wind capacity by 2020. Having reached the 500MW target, nothing has happened in the country since.

Offshore wind has shared a similar fate. In 2016, the government announced its intention to back offshore wind farms and it approved amendments to the country’s renewable energy law to open up to offshore wind. It carried out an evaluation of offshore wind potential, which showed that the country could build up to 7.2GW of wind capacity off its coast. But again, nothing has happened since. Let’s hope it can deliver the planned 250MW offshore wind auction in 2019.

As the country strives for energy independence, this energy strategy is just a first – even though very important – step. Many more are needed to change an energy system that has relied on Russia and imports for decades.

These include the reduction of administrative and grid-related hurdles; a stable regulatory system to attract investors; investments to optimise the country’s energy infrastructure; and the full integration of the country’s energy into the EU market. To achieve that, for example, Lithuania and the other Baltic countries including Poland, Latvia and Estonia are working together to synchronise their electricity networks to continental Europe.

And there’s another issue – arguably the most difficult to solve – that the government would need to address to promote renewables in the country. Corruption.

For example, Lithuanian politician Artūras Skardžius is under a parliamentarian investigation over allegations that his family profited from land deals related to wind projects developed by state utility Naujoji Energija, the country’s largest wind owner. Skardžius has denied any wrongdoing, but corruption scandals don’t help create a good reputation for wind with the public opinion.

That support will be crucial if the Lithuanian government is to push through its plans.

The wind community has welcomed the National Energy Independence Strategy approved by the Lithuanian government last month.

With its new energy plan, Lithuania aims to produce 70% of the electricity it uses by 2030, with 45% from renewables. By 2050, the country wants all of its electricity to be produced by renewables, with wind set to account for up to 55% of it.

This sounds like a very ambitious plan, considering that wind currently accounts for only 3.9% of the country’s energy needs. It has total capacity of 493MW and did not add a single turbine last year, though plans to do more onshore and offshore.

However, Lithuania’s new plan should be the incentive for wind investors to do more. WindEurope has estimated that it should lead to installed wind capacity in the nation growing to 750MW by 2022, 1GW by 2025 and 1.3GW by 2030.

For Lithuania, increasing the amount of renewables in its energy mix is not the only goal. Most importantly, the new strategy makes renewables a key tool to reduce the country’s reliance on Russia: Lithuania’s energy dependence rate in 2017 was 73%, well above the European Union average of 53%. In fact, energy has always been a powerful reminder for Lithuania of its past as part of the Soviet Union.

The country has been struggling with its dependence on other countries since 1990, and this worsened with the decommissioning in 2009 of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which used to meet 77% of the country’s electricity needs.

As a result, Lithuania has had to import almost all of its energy from Russia. These imports are mainly made up of natural gas, for which the Baltic country pays some of the highest prices in Europe. The construction of renewables projects for Lithuania means independence and lower energy tariffs.

This also means that the government must show more commitment in promoting renewables than it has so far.

For example, the country’s onshore wind sector has stalled since 2015. That year, the government held an auction for onshore wind capacity in order to comply with its target of installing 500MW of onshore wind capacity by 2020. Having reached the 500MW target, nothing has happened in the country since.

Offshore wind has shared a similar fate. In 2016, the government announced its intention to back offshore wind farms and it approved amendments to the country’s renewable energy law to open up to offshore wind. It carried out an evaluation of offshore wind potential, which showed that the country could build up to 7.2GW of wind capacity off its coast. But again, nothing has happened since. Let’s hope it can deliver the planned 250MW offshore wind auction in 2019.

As the country strives for energy independence, this energy strategy is just a first – even though very important – step. Many more are needed to change an energy system that has relied on Russia and imports for decades.

These include the reduction of administrative and grid-related hurdles; a stable regulatory system to attract investors; investments to optimise the country’s energy infrastructure; and the full integration of the country’s energy into the EU market. To achieve that, for example, Lithuania and the other Baltic countries including Poland, Latvia and Estonia are working together to synchronise their electricity networks to continental Europe.

And there’s another issue – arguably the most difficult to solve – that the government would need to address to promote renewables in the country. Corruption.

For example, Lithuanian politician Artūras Skardžius is under a parliamentarian investigation over allegations that his family profited from land deals related to wind projects developed by state utility Naujoji Energija, the country’s largest wind owner. Skardžius has denied any wrongdoing, but corruption scandals don’t help create a good reputation for wind with the public opinion.

That support will be crucial if the Lithuanian government is to push through its plans.

The wind community has welcomed the National Energy Independence Strategy approved by the Lithuanian government last month.

With its new energy plan, Lithuania aims to produce 70% of the electricity it uses by 2030, with 45% from renewables. By 2050, the country wants all of its electricity to be produced by renewables, with wind set to account for up to 55% of it.

This sounds like a very ambitious plan, considering that wind currently accounts for only 3.9% of the country’s energy needs. It has total capacity of 493MW and did not add a single turbine last year, though plans to do more onshore and offshore.

However, Lithuania’s new plan should be the incentive for wind investors to do more. WindEurope has estimated that it should lead to installed wind capacity in the nation growing to 750MW by 2022, 1GW by 2025 and 1.3GW by 2030.

For Lithuania, increasing the amount of renewables in its energy mix is not the only goal. Most importantly, the new strategy makes renewables a key tool to reduce the country’s reliance on Russia: Lithuania’s energy dependence rate in 2017 was 73%, well above the European Union average of 53%. In fact, energy has always been a powerful reminder for Lithuania of its past as part of the Soviet Union.

The country has been struggling with its dependence on other countries since 1990, and this worsened with the decommissioning in 2009 of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which used to meet 77% of the country’s electricity needs.

As a result, Lithuania has had to import almost all of its energy from Russia. These imports are mainly made up of natural gas, for which the Baltic country pays some of the highest prices in Europe. The construction of renewables projects for Lithuania means independence and lower energy tariffs.

This also means that the government must show more commitment in promoting renewables than it has so far.

For example, the country’s onshore wind sector has stalled since 2015. That year, the government held an auction for onshore wind capacity in order to comply with its target of installing 500MW of onshore wind capacity by 2020. Having reached the 500MW target, nothing has happened in the country since.

Offshore wind has shared a similar fate. In 2016, the government announced its intention to back offshore wind farms and it approved amendments to the country’s renewable energy law to open up to offshore wind. It carried out an evaluation of offshore wind potential, which showed that the country could build up to 7.2GW of wind capacity off its coast. But again, nothing has happened since. Let’s hope it can deliver the planned 250MW offshore wind auction in 2019.

As the country strives for energy independence, this energy strategy is just a first – even though very important – step. Many more are needed to change an energy system that has relied on Russia and imports for decades.

These include the reduction of administrative and grid-related hurdles; a stable regulatory system to attract investors; investments to optimise the country’s energy infrastructure; and the full integration of the country’s energy into the EU market. To achieve that, for example, Lithuania and the other Baltic countries including Poland, Latvia and Estonia are working together to synchronise their electricity networks to continental Europe.

And there’s another issue – arguably the most difficult to solve – that the government would need to address to promote renewables in the country. Corruption.

For example, Lithuanian politician Artūras Skardžius is under a parliamentarian investigation over allegations that his family profited from land deals related to wind projects developed by state utility Naujoji Energija, the country’s largest wind owner. Skardžius has denied any wrongdoing, but corruption scandals don’t help create a good reputation for wind with the public opinion.

That support will be crucial if the Lithuanian government is to push through its plans.

The wind community has welcomed the National Energy Independence Strategy approved by the Lithuanian government last month.

With its new energy plan, Lithuania aims to produce 70% of the electricity it uses by 2030, with 45% from renewables. By 2050, the country wants all of its electricity to be produced by renewables, with wind set to account for up to 55% of it.

This sounds like a very ambitious plan, considering that wind currently accounts for only 3.9% of the country’s energy needs. It has total capacity of 493MW and did not add a single turbine last year, though plans to do more onshore and offshore.

However, Lithuania’s new plan should be the incentive for wind investors to do more. WindEurope has estimated that it should lead to installed wind capacity in the nation growing to 750MW by 2022, 1GW by 2025 and 1.3GW by 2030.

For Lithuania, increasing the amount of renewables in its energy mix is not the only goal. Most importantly, the new strategy makes renewables a key tool to reduce the country’s reliance on Russia: Lithuania’s energy dependence rate in 2017 was 73%, well above the European Union average of 53%. In fact, energy has always been a powerful reminder for Lithuania of its past as part of the Soviet Union.

The country has been struggling with its dependence on other countries since 1990, and this worsened with the decommissioning in 2009 of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which used to meet 77% of the country’s electricity needs.

As a result, Lithuania has had to import almost all of its energy from Russia. These imports are mainly made up of natural gas, for which the Baltic country pays some of the highest prices in Europe. The construction of renewables projects for Lithuania means independence and lower energy tariffs.

This also means that the government must show more commitment in promoting renewables than it has so far.

For example, the country’s onshore wind sector has stalled since 2015. That year, the government held an auction for onshore wind capacity in order to comply with its target of installing 500MW of onshore wind capacity by 2020. Having reached the 500MW target, nothing has happened in the country since.

Offshore wind has shared a similar fate. In 2016, the government announced its intention to back offshore wind farms and it approved amendments to the country’s renewable energy law to open up to offshore wind. It carried out an evaluation of offshore wind potential, which showed that the country could build up to 7.2GW of wind capacity off its coast. But again, nothing has happened since. Let’s hope it can deliver the planned 250MW offshore wind auction in 2019.

As the country strives for energy independence, this energy strategy is just a first – even though very important – step. Many more are needed to change an energy system that has relied on Russia and imports for decades.

These include the reduction of administrative and grid-related hurdles; a stable regulatory system to attract investors; investments to optimise the country’s energy infrastructure; and the full integration of the country’s energy into the EU market. To achieve that, for example, Lithuania and the other Baltic countries including Poland, Latvia and Estonia are working together to synchronise their electricity networks to continental Europe.

And there’s another issue – arguably the most difficult to solve – that the government would need to address to promote renewables in the country. Corruption.

For example, Lithuanian politician Artūras Skardžius is under a parliamentarian investigation over allegations that his family profited from land deals related to wind projects developed by state utility Naujoji Energija, the country’s largest wind owner. Skardžius has denied any wrongdoing, but corruption scandals don’t help create a good reputation for wind with the public opinion.

That support will be crucial if the Lithuanian government is to push through its plans.

The wind community has welcomed the National Energy Independence Strategy approved by the Lithuanian government last month.

With its new energy plan, Lithuania aims to produce 70% of the electricity it uses by 2030, with 45% from renewables. By 2050, the country wants all of its electricity to be produced by renewables, with wind set to account for up to 55% of it.

This sounds like a very ambitious plan, considering that wind currently accounts for only 3.9% of the country’s energy needs. It has total capacity of 493MW and did not add a single turbine last year, though plans to do more onshore and offshore.

However, Lithuania’s new plan should be the incentive for wind investors to do more. WindEurope has estimated that it should lead to installed wind capacity in the nation growing to 750MW by 2022, 1GW by 2025 and 1.3GW by 2030.

For Lithuania, increasing the amount of renewables in its energy mix is not the only goal. Most importantly, the new strategy makes renewables a key tool to reduce the country’s reliance on Russia: Lithuania’s energy dependence rate in 2017 was 73%, well above the European Union average of 53%. In fact, energy has always been a powerful reminder for Lithuania of its past as part of the Soviet Union.

The country has been struggling with its dependence on other countries since 1990, and this worsened with the decommissioning in 2009 of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which used to meet 77% of the country’s electricity needs.

As a result, Lithuania has had to import almost all of its energy from Russia. These imports are mainly made up of natural gas, for which the Baltic country pays some of the highest prices in Europe. The construction of renewables projects for Lithuania means independence and lower energy tariffs.

This also means that the government must show more commitment in promoting renewables than it has so far.

For example, the country’s onshore wind sector has stalled since 2015. That year, the government held an auction for onshore wind capacity in order to comply with its target of installing 500MW of onshore wind capacity by 2020. Having reached the 500MW target, nothing has happened in the country since.

Offshore wind has shared a similar fate. In 2016, the government announced its intention to back offshore wind farms and it approved amendments to the country’s renewable energy law to open up to offshore wind. It carried out an evaluation of offshore wind potential, which showed that the country could build up to 7.2GW of wind capacity off its coast. But again, nothing has happened since. Let’s hope it can deliver the planned 250MW offshore wind auction in 2019.

As the country strives for energy independence, this energy strategy is just a first – even though very important – step. Many more are needed to change an energy system that has relied on Russia and imports for decades.

These include the reduction of administrative and grid-related hurdles; a stable regulatory system to attract investors; investments to optimise the country’s energy infrastructure; and the full integration of the country’s energy into the EU market. To achieve that, for example, Lithuania and the other Baltic countries including Poland, Latvia and Estonia are working together to synchronise their electricity networks to continental Europe.

And there’s another issue – arguably the most difficult to solve – that the government would need to address to promote renewables in the country. Corruption.

For example, Lithuanian politician Artūras Skardžius is under a parliamentarian investigation over allegations that his family profited from land deals related to wind projects developed by state utility Naujoji Energija, the country’s largest wind owner. Skardžius has denied any wrongdoing, but corruption scandals don’t help create a good reputation for wind with the public opinion.

That support will be crucial if the Lithuanian government is to push through its plans.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.