Lithuania will have to independently produce all of the electricity it consumes from renewable sources, within a mere 30 years. The country established this ambitious goal in its National Energy Independence Strategy. The first implementation projects are already gaining momentum and the first auction, in which the developers of renewable energy projects will compete for the opportunity to implement them, is anticipated to take place by the end of this year. However, what factors are important to consider when aiming to achieve these goals? Which are the key aspects as seen by the society and which by the experts?
The nation’s intermediate achievements will be none the less significant than the end objective set out in the strategy. We will already have to produce twice as much electricity (5 TWh) from renewable sources by 2025. It has been estimated that this will reduce the need for imports by as much as 30 percent. Clear terms for the developers of renewable energy projects, political will and cooperation among all the institutions and stakeholders will be important factors for the goals to be achieved in the long run.
The recipe for the successful implementation of the strategy, as seen by the residents of the country, can be seen in the data from a recent public opinion survey. As many as 41 percent of the respondents considered clear terms for the developers of renewable energy projects to be the most significant aspect, with regard to the strategic goal to produce 100 percent of the energy needed by the country from renewable sources. One third of the residents were certain that this would need public support and required accountability from the politicians and institutions in charge. An identical percentage emphasized the necessity for political will and consistency; while 25 percent emphasized close cooperation among the institutions in charge.
Obviously, as intensive discussions on renewable energy are taking place within the country, Lithuanian residents are becoming increasingly interested in this subject. Thus, their priorities are really solid and sends clear message about their expectations to the stakeholders.
Experts from the Lithuanian Wind Energy Association who participate actively in the process of the implementation of the strategy have expressed a similar opinion. We have noticed that both clear terms and cooperation among the institutions in charge should result in very specific explanations or a search for very specific, and at the same time significant, solutions.
One of the most important issues is the new procedure of the auctions whereby wind, solar, biomass and other renewable energy producers will compete for the same quota of the energy capacity planned to be installed. The new procedure stipulates that the winners of the auctions will have to cover the costs of a connection to the network at their own expense, and they must undertake to produce a certain amount of energy. Fines may have to be paid if less than 80 percent of the planned amount of energy is generated.
Besides this, the developers will also bear the burden of responsibility for the balancing of electrical energy which was previously responsibility ofthe transmission system operator. To put it in other words, they will have to predict the quantities of electricity produced by each turbines by themselves, and must cover the miscalculations by buying electricity in the balancing market in the case of inaccurate predictions. These are merely a few examples; however, they clearly illustrate the fact that the developers will have to assume quite a high financial risk.
One more aspect will be very important when aiming to implement the National Energy Independence Strategy. The responsible institutions will have to look for ways to combine two essential and closely-related goals of Lithuania: national and energy security. It is stipulated in the strategy that we will be producing most of the energy in wind parks; however, the Lithuanian Armed Forces has noted that wind turbines prevent airspace surveillance radars from operating efficiently. This means that we will have to solve the issues that have arisen, and combine the goals of ensuring both the development of wind energy and the security of our airspace.
European bodies such as Eurocontrol have prepared written recommendations on this issue, while the foreign countries which are considered to be the pioneers in wind energy are also open to inquiries. We have already documented good examples in Lithuania: the national defence structures have purchased short-range gap filler radars last year, a purchase which was partly financed by the developers of wind parks. The operation of these radars should start before the end of this year, and the structures should help observe the airspace around wind parks in the districts of Šilutė and Tauragė.
Such examples show that we can solve various challenges through cooperation. It was cooperation that laid the foundation of the strategy in which everyone worked closely together: the Ministry of Energy, associations uniting renewable energy companies and other responsible institutions. By working in the same manner, we can successfully implement our strategy.
Comment by Aistis Radavičius, Executive Director of the Lithuanian Wind Energy Association.
The representative survey, the data of which is used in this comment, was conducted by the communication planning agency OMD on the orders of the Lithuanian Wind Energy Association. 1,073 internet users aged 18-74 were questioned online while conducting the research.