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Energetics
 
  Renewable energy sources: toward energy security? (Part 2) (1)

Inga Sapronaitytë
2013 06 03

Wind energy

The first wind turbine in Lithuania was built in 1991 but due to technical problems it hasn’t been functioning for quite a long time. It was decided then that wind power is not sufficient for an effective power plant in Lithuania. Pursuant to the survey of 1994-1996, the Lithuanian coastal zone has considerable potential for wind power: the average wind speed here is 6,4 m/s. In other territories wind speed is not sufficient for the construction of more powerful wind farms.  

According to the National Strategy for the Development of Renewable Energy Sources, by 2020 the capacity of wind farms will reach 500 MW, whereas in 2012 the capacity of Lithuanian wind farms has already reached 225 MW. According to the data of  LitGRID, today permits have been issued to connect electricity transmission grids to wind farms with the total capacity 595 MW.

Due to technical  restrictions in energy transmission grids, as well as possible negative impact on the environment and local resistance, after reaching the capacity of 500 MW further wind energy developments in Lithuania should be regulated by new laws. Besides, nearly the entire Lithuania’s  shoreline is the resort  area. In view of this, construction of wind turbines in this territory could be problematic.

Thus, wind energy is one of the most rapidly developing renewable energy sources (RES) in Lithuania, yet its further development is complicated due the absence of relevant infrastructure, local resistance and negative impact on the environment. Development of the capacity of wind farms in the Baltic Sea is also considered.   

Biomass

Biomass is biological material which could be used to generate thermal/electricity energy and biofuel. The largest biomass sources include: short rotation forestry, lignocellulose-rich crops, oil crops, wood waste, agriculture and municipal waste, sewage sludge and manufacturing waste.  

The main points describing the use of biomass in Lithuania are:  

· biomass accounts for about 90 percent of the renewable energy sources in Lithuania and its major source is wood;  

· the price of thermal supply services (where biomass comprises the major share) is 30 percent lower compared to prices of companies using fossil fuel. The Government will seek to increase the use of biomass sources for district heating up to 60 percent. In 2010 the power of energy generated from biomass was 390 MW; by 2020 it is expected to reach 1425 MW;

· the use of biofuel is determined by its obligatory blending with fuels. In 2008 biofuels accounted for 4,3 percent of the total diesel consumed in transport. By 2020 this share should account for 10 percent.

· biogas could be produced from the municipal waste, manufacturing, animal and plant waste and sewage sludge, however, so far the practice of biofuel production is not popular.

Today biomass is one of the main renewable energy sources in Lithuania. The potential of straw, energy plants or collection of biogas from the landfills has not yet been used efficiently.  

Solar energy

Lithuanian climate is not favourable for solar energy, yet there are quite many opportunities in this field. In Lithuania the exposure of solar energy in one square metre of horizontal surface is from 926 kWh to 1042 kWh. This is not sufficient for the generation of industrial but it could be used in individual houses as an additional energy source.

To make solar energy economically attractive, it should pay off within the period of 7 years; today the forecast for pay off is 25 years, thus solar power production requires subsidies. Unfortunately this year subsidies have been cut by 40 percent. Whereas sun collectors used for water heating in residential houses (they are very popular in Europe) have not yet found their place in Lithuania due to high installation prices and lack of support from the Government.

Hydro energy

The potential for hydro energy development is low since Lithuania is a country of flatlands, whereas a possible impact on the environment is inadequately high: dams disorient migrating fish, and floods affect large river valleys. The National Strategy of Renewable Energy Sources anticipates minor hydro energy developments: by 2020 it is planned to increase the power of small hydropower plants from 26 MW to 40 MW, whereas the development of large hydro power plants is not envisaged.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy industry has been rapidly growing in the countries where hot rocks, sand, gravel or springs are relatively high near the surface.  

Technologies providing for energy generation by using Lithuania‘s subsoil temperature is only making its first steps, therefore commercial energy generation projects have not yet been implemented in the country. Geothermal energy is mainly used for heating of individual houses (in Lithuania there are several agencies pumping ground waters for public supply.  

Summary and recommendations

Pursuant to the analysis on the development and prospects of the renewable energy sources in Lithuania, the country will reach the target to generate 23 percent of its total primary energy balance from renewable sources by 2020, but this will not ensure energy independence. RES could help Lithuania reduce negative impact on the environment and establish new jobs.

Lithuania has been successfully fulfilling the undertaken international and EU commitments in the sphere of RES,  but hasn’t used its full potential yet. The three main recommendations include:

· The Government shall initiate simplified regulatory framework applicable to RES, simplified permit procedures for renewable energy projects, and reduction of administrative costs;  

· prices of renewable energy sources are still higher than prices of conventional energy sources, thus support of the Government is instrumental for the development of RES. The Government shall facilitate credit granting procedures for innovative projects and ensure transparent and stable policy of subsidies;

· to promote more effective use of biomass sources for energy production (e.g. straw, industrial and municipal waste, and sewers);  

· to raise public awareness in the sphere of renewable energy sources via various information campaigns.

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