Wind energy spurts in Lithuania: the highest number of wind turbines ever ordered in the third quarter of the last year
Wind energy in Lithuania is showing a growth spurt – according to Wind Europe, Lithuania was second in Europe in terms of the number of wind turbines ordered in the third quarter of the last year, but still lags behind the European average in terms of the amount of electricity generated from wind, and is particularly behind the wind energy leaders. Representatives of companies developing wind farms believe that we will be seeing more of these figures in European statistics as the development of wind farms in Lithuania is only now gaining momentum.
According to Wind Europe, the European wind energy industry’s trade body, the first quarter of last year saw the largest number of wind turbines ordered in the UK and Sweden, which are already leaders in this field, and the second in Finland and Germany. In the third quarter, Ukraine and Lithuania, which for the first time topped the leaderboard with a total order book of 262 MW, were the biggest wind turbine orders.
According to Urtė Daškevičiūtė, Executive Director of the Lithuanian Wind Energy Association (LVEA), although this is the largest wind order in Lithuania’s history, it is not entirely unexpected.
“Wind energy is gaining momentum in Lithuania and is one of the most important ways of energy production. Last year, wind power accounted for the largest share of installed capacity, accounting for almost 60% of total renewable energy capacity. It is important to note that the Kruonis pumped storage plant is not taken into account, as it is only used as a back-up power source in case of a strong increase in electricity demand or power outages. The successful development of wind farms in the country is gaining more and more support from business and society, so we should see more than one such jump in the overall European statistics in the future,” says U. Daškevičiūtė.
The wind energy boom is just beginning
“According to Wind Europe, in the third quarter of last year, 48 wind turbines with a capacity of 5-6 MW were ordered by Lithuanian companies. All of the wind turbines ordered were manufactured by General Electric. The main customers are Enefit Green and European Energy, which are developing wind farms in Lithuania.
According to Linas Sabaliauskas, Head of Lithuania at Enefit Green, an energy company belonging to the Eesti Energia group, the company has placed an order for 26 wind turbines this year. 14 wind turbines will be installed in Akmenė, one of the largest wind farms under development in the country, and 12 will be installed in Šilalė.
Both parks are expected to be operational in 2023. The investment for the 75 MW project in Akmene alone is €85 million. The wind farm is expected to generate up to 258 GWh of electricity per year, enough to power around 80 000 households. The second wind farm being developed in Šilale will have a slightly smaller capacity of 160 GWh per year.
“At the moment there seems to be a wind energy boom in Lithuania, which in my opinion is at least 1-2 years late. In fact, the development of wind farms in the country is just gaining momentum, with more and more companies turning to low-cost wind energy to replace the current expensive fossil fuel electricity. We should already be calling the energy we produce from renewable sources ‘mainstream’ rather than ‘alternative’ energy,” said Sabaliauskas.
Already looking to the Baltic Sea
Andrius Čypas, a representative of the Danish renewable energy company European Energy and the head of European Energy Lithuania, shares a similar opinion: in order to reach the Government’s goal of generating 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050, it is necessary to move forward.
“At the moment, wind farms in Lithuania are only being developed on land, and the available land area still allows us to look for places where wind farms can be built, but soon we will move to offshore wind farms. We hope that the Government will allow us to start and participate in the development of offshore wind farms as early as 2023,” says Mr Čypas.
European Energy has acquired 34 wind turbines last year, he said. Of the 21 wind turbines acquired year before, 12 are being built in Jonava district and 9 in Anykščiai district. The new wind farms are expected to be operational as early as this year, with a total capacity of 49.5 MW in Anykščiai, generating about 150 GWh of electricity annually. New wind farms in Rokiškis and Telšiai are planned for next year.
Lithuania has a chance to take the lead
One of the most modern wind farms in the country is currently being developed in Telšiai – all the General Electric wind turbines have been installed and the park has been operating in a test mode since the beginning of September. According to Gediminas Uloza, head of the E Energija Group, which is developing the park, although it is difficult to draw long-term conclusions from the atypical third quarter of the year, Lithuania has a good chance to lead in wind energy.
“It is a fact that Lithuania is expected to see more wind farms, but whether we will be leading every quarter in terms of the amount of wind turbines ordered is certainly not. However, on average we will be above average and will remain among the leading countries in terms of the number of newly installed wind turbines compared to the size of the country for several years. This is because for a long time we had no new wind farms in Lithuania at all, while in Western Europe during that time most of the sites suitable for wind energy have been developed and used, and in many places there are renewals of wind farms, where old wind farms are being dismantled and new wind farms are being built,” explains Mr Uloza.
“According to Wind Europe, Lithuania is close to the European average in terms of electricity from wind – 13% of electricity demand is met by wind power, compared to the European average of 15%. However, the country is lagging far behind wind power leaders such as Denmark (48%), Ireland (38%), Germany (27%) and Sweden (20%).
Choose only the most modern wind farms
According to LVEA Executive Director U. Daškevičiūtė, it is worth noting that most of the wind turbines ordered in Lithuania are modern and powerful, which allows for a higher amount of electricity production with a smaller number of wind turbines.
“Wind farm developers have to assess the cost of the electricity generated by the wind turbine, which is not only the cost of the wind turbines, but also the cost and speed of their construction, maintenance and other costs included in the contract with the producer. We can be pleased that Lithuanian wind energy developers have every opportunity to choose only from the best offers from manufacturers,” says U. Daškevičiūtė.
According to G. Uloza, General Electric’s wind turbines, the most common in Lithuania, have managed to gain a competitive advantage in the market not only because of their state-of-the-art turbines, but also because of the established project execution and service team and experience in the implementation of projects.
In 2020, Europe’s wind farms had a total capacity of 220 GW, 80% of which was onshore. In 2020 alone, 14.7 GW of wind farms were installed in Europe, mostly in the Netherlands (2 GW), Germany (1.7 GW), Sweden (1.7 GW), Spain (1.4 GW) and France (1.3 GW).