Developers doubt the effectiveness of offshore wind development actions


Research carried out by scientists ordered by the Ministry of Energy to analyse the development of wind parks in the Baltic Sea gives hope that we would soon see the first offshore wind turbines in the Baltic Sea areas belonging to Lithuania. However, Lithuanian Wind Power Association, while supporting the development of offshore wind energy, doubts  the efficiency of the processes being carried out.

“Naturally, as the processes of harnessing the potential of wind energy onshore have intensified, a new phase is underway – the development of wind energy at sea is being considered. Earlier this summer, the results of an analysis to identify the offshore wind potential were released. While this move seems welcome on one hand, there are also some issues to consider. Until a few years ago, private companies explored the potential of offshore wind energy in Lithuania on their own initiative, as was allowed by law. However, at that time the Seimas adopted amendments to the Law on Energy from Renewable Sources, stipulating that from then on, only state institutions would be able to conduct preliminary research in the most offshore wind suitable marine areas,” said Aistis Radavičius, Director of  Lithuanian Wind Power Association.

According to A. Radavičius, not only amendments to the law were adopted in 2017, but also a set of procedure, including a full list of studies and actions which would need to be taken before the development of offshore wind energy, was approved. Although it has been almost two years since this reglamentation was adopted, the list has been shortened by only one study. Thus, the question arises as to whether, before the deadline date of 1 February 2021, all the actions listed will be completed as to enable the Government to take decision on development of wind energy in the Baltic Sea. The Director of the Association notes that the Commission responsible for supervising of conducting of the above-mentioned studies, established by the reglamentation of 2017, has never actualy held a meeting.

Other reasons for accelerating the processes are the technological progress and the maximum capacity indicates in the analysis. In other words, the developers point out that the figures are based on the current technology, but given the very rapid rate of progress, such recommendations on maximum capacity may soon be out of date. Therefore, if the conditions for the development of offshore power plants are not properly developed for a longer period of time, these calculations may no longer be relevant.

The price of offshore electricity is falling


The potential for offshore wind energy has been confirmed by recent data on the cost of such energy. According to an offshore wind sector report by the WindEurope, between 2013 and 2018, the price of the electricity generated by wind power plants offshore almost halved – it dropped by 45 percent. Significant price reductions were driven by competitive auctions, as well as by larger and more powerful turbines being installed which produce energy more efficiently.

According to A. Radavičius, the development of offshore wind energy will be extremely important in implementing the goals set in the National Energy Independence Strategy, in order for the country to produce all the electricity it needs from renewable sources in the future. However, in order to ensure the efficient development of offshore wind energy, it is important to regulate the legislative framework. It is crucial to provide the right conditions for connections to the electricity transmission networks and create a favourable investment environment that can we expect to see real progress.

The most suitable location and maximum installed capacity have been determined


An analysis commissioned by the Ministry identified where it would be most appropriate to operate wind parks and the maximum potential for wind turbines in that area. According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Klaipėda, the most favourable location for their development in the Baltic Sea area is 30 km from the shore at Šventoji, with a recommended maximum installed capacity of not more than 3.35 gigawatts (3350 MW). The Ministry is currently planning to develop a Special Maritime Plan for the area, and to carry out a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment.

To date, no wind turbine has been operating in the Lithuanian maritime areas. There are currently 23 onshore wind parks in Lithuania with a combined capacity of 480 MW. In total,  539 MW of wind generation is installed in the country, including small wind parks and single turbines.