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'Lithuania: a small nation with big wind-power opportunities'

Baltic state wants to supply half of its electricity from wind by 2030, and to hit 100% renewables by 2050, writes Aistis Radavičius

Opportunities abound for wind power developers in Lithuania over the coming decades, with the Baltic state planning to almost triple its wind capacity from 540MW to 1.25GW by 2030 — providing about half of all its electricity — and to reach 100% renewables by 2050.

Offshore wind will play a key role in this journey, providing at least 700MW , with a recent analysis by the Lithuanian Energy Agency finding that the nation’s territorial waters have the best winds for offshore development in the Baltic Sea, with the potential for 3.35GW.

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In the country’s National Energy and Climate Plan, the first offshore wind farms are due to be switched on in 2028-29.

With Lithuania only generating 25% of its own electricity and importing the rest — mainly from Russia — the small country is pushing forward with a National Energy Independence Strategy, aiming to increase its wind energy from an annual 1.1TWh to 3.8TWh by 2030.

A schedule of renewable energy auctions was recently unveiled, with the first tender launched in September and due to be concluded late this year or in the first quarter of 2020, if a second round is needed, and three more auctions to take place over the next three years.

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In the first auction, a 0.3TWh quota is due to be allocated, with the next auctions reaching 0.7TWh each. While both project developers and funders see some risks in the new support model, the long-term auction schedule clearly show that the government’s intentions are serious.

Discussions have also begun to amend legislation to allow the sale of renewable energy through corporate power-purchase agreements — an initiative kick-started by the Lithuanian Wind Power Association.

The build-out of renewable energy in Lithuania is vital to achieve energy security and end its reliance on an often belligerent Russia. This will be further enhanced by the desynchronisation of the Baltic states from the Russian IPS/UPS grid system (a hangover of their history as Soviet republics) and synchronisation with continental Europe and fellow EU countries by 2025 — a move agreed in June by the European Commission, the Baltic States and Poland.

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A recent report released by the EU revealed that the Baltic nations’ energy transitions are outpacing some of the old EU countries, and have already achieved their renewable energy targets for 2020. However, WindEurope notes that the national plans of most EU countries have not clearly set out how their objectives for 2030 will be delivered. Of the three Baltic States, Lithuania was evaluated as the best in this regard.

Small countries often face challenges in the competitive battle for investments, but countries like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have a unique strength. By setting ambitious goals and working together, the Baltic States could create a single electricity market and become much more attractive to potential investors.

Aistis Radavičius is the executive director of the Lithuanian Wind Power Association.

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