15 June is World Wind Day, a day to highlight the importance of wind energy and its potential to transform long-standing energy systems and contribute to solving the climate crisis by reducing carbon emissions. The Lithuanian Wind Energy Association (LVEA) takes a look at the 9 most important facts about wind energy in Lithuania that it has recorded since last year’s Wind Day.
Installed capacity of wind power plants in Lithuania exceeded 1 gigawatt (GW)
Wind energy development in Lithuania is gaining momentum, with around 370 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity to be installed in the country in 2022. At the end of the year, the total installed capacity in the country reached 946 MW. This year, the 1 GW mark has already been crossed.
There are currently around 40 wind farms and hybrid parks under development in Lithuania. According to the LVEA, the capacity of wind power plants is expected to increase to 2.6 GW once all the projects currently under development are completed.
Record electricity generation from wind farms achieved
In the first quarter of this year, the country’s wind farms generated a record amount of electricity – around 625 gigawatt hours (GWh). Compared to the previous year, production capacity has increased significantly: wind farms generated 444 GWh in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 294 GWh in the same period in 2021.
“The strong growth in electricity generation is not only due to favourable natural conditions, but also due to the higher installed capacity of wind power plants. We expect wind power generation in the second quarter of the year to also be significant. So far, according to preliminary estimates, 288 GWh of electricity has been generated in wind farms in April and May,” says Mindaugas Juodis, Member of the LVEA Council and CEO of Renerga.
Last year, the country’s wind farms generated 1.51 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity.
Lithuania’s largest wind farm to date completed in 2022
The largest wind farm in Lithuania in terms of electricity generation started operating last year in Tryškių municipality, Telšiai district. The privately-owned Lithuanian energy group E energija has built 13 wind farms with a total installed capacity of 69.3 megawatts (MW). The developed park was bought by Encavis AG of Germany.
“This is not only the first wind farm of this size built in Lithuania since 2016 and connected to Litgrid’s grid, but also the first one built without state subsidies. We can say that we have given the green light to other wind park developers by our example,” says Gediminas Uloza, LVEA Council Member and CEO of E energija Group.
New power transmission line under construction will also open up opportunities for renewable energy development
Litgrid has started the construction of a new 12 km long 330 kV power transmission line in the Klaipėda region. This line will be part of the Western Lithuania electricity transmission main, which is important for strengthening the reliability of the country’s electricity grid and preparing for synchronisation with the continental European grid. According to energy developers, the expansion of the country’s electricity grid is also crucial for the development of renewable energy.
“We welcome and encourage the ongoing renovation and expansion of power transmission lines, as the country’s growing renewable energy capacity is accompanied by a growing need to connect more solar and wind farms to the grid. In order for Lithuania to become an electricity exporter, it is crucial to ensure that electricity can flow to other European countries now. Responsible
Wind energy developers contribute to lower electricity prices for consumers
Wind energy, considered one of the cheapest ways of generating electricity, is also a major contributor to lowering electricity prices for end consumers. At night, when electricity consumption is at its lowest, the price of electricity can be as low as 0 cents. The more wind power we have, the more the price of electricity goes down.
In addition, electricity producers have been paying surplus revenues, known as ‘surplus earnings’, to the national budget since last December. This year alone, according to the calculations and declarations submitted by producers, they should have paid €13.932 million in surplus revenue for the period from December to March. It is not disclosed how much of this amount is made up of excess profits paid by wind farm developers. The use of the funds has not yet been decided, as it was previously announced that the surplus revenue could be used to reduce electricity tariffs for consumers, as well as to pay off the State’s debt on electricity compensation to the population.
Wind farm developers to share profits with communities
Despite the long-term support contracts normally concluded between wind farm developers and the communities in the vicinity of the parks, the “Breakthrough Package” adopted in 2022 foresees that from 1 July this year, developers of renewable energy projects that have obtained new permits to produce electricity will also pay a Production Charge to the communities. The levy will be payable for the previous calendar year, based on the amount of electricity produced, at €0.0013 per kWh.
“The introduction of a financial production charge for communities is a good initiative to motivate positive attitudes in local communities and to protect against unreasonable demands. Clear criteria and procedures for the payment of the contribution provide certainty and help to align the expectations of developers and communities. The tangible benefits of wind farm neighbourhoods will hopefully also lead to a more favourable attitude towards communities towards wind farms in their neighbourhoods. I believe that an important and necessary first step has been taken, which should be revisited and solutions sought regarding the proportionality of the production fee to the needs of the communities, the transparency of the use of the money, etc.”, says Aidmantas Bernatonis, LVEA Council Member and CEO of Dalis gero.
Interest in wind energy opportunities in Lithuania is growing
Wind energy potential in Lithuania is of interest not only to the country’s businesses, but also to large international energy companies. The number of members of the association has grown by one third in the last year. 52 companies in the wind energy sector have joined the LVEA.
“We are pleased with the growing number of like-minded people, as wind energy development in Lithuania is beneficial for the country’s economy, employment and well-being. At the same time, the growing interest in wind energy shows that significant changes are taking place in the country’s energy system,” says Linas Sabaliauskas, Head of LVEA.
The first hybrid solar/wind farms are built
The synergy between solar and wind power plants is another big step for renewable energy in Lithuania. Ignitis Renewables started construction of its first hybrid wind and solar park a year ago – a 22 MW solar park will be built by 2024 alongside a 10 MW wind farm in Tauragė, which has been in operation for a decade.
“Hybrid parks will only increase in number as the demand for renewable energy grows exponentially. This is not only due to the geopolitical situation caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, but also due to the growing consumption of electricity as we move away from dependence on fossil fuels. It is important to understand that Lithuania’s renewable energy goals should not be pitted against wind and solar energy, which are successfully complementary renewable resources that, through solutions such as batteries, will contribute to grid stability and to the achievement of the sustainable energy goals,” says LVEA’s Edgaras Maladauskas.
Offshore wind farm project launched in Lithuania
Lithuania, which has so far only developed onshore wind farms, is moving into offshore wind energy, with the adoption of legislation in 2022 to develop two offshore wind farms. The latter parks will significantly increase the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and thus reduce Lithuania’s dependence on electricity imports. The first 700 MW offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea is currently being tendered. Another tender is planned for autumn this year. Both offshore wind farms would meet around half of Lithuania’s current electricity demand.