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25 February 2019 | Aija Zucika, LEIF

Feeding the Latvian Policy Process: Creating recommendations towards a new national renewable energy policy

At the moment less than 2% of the Latvian Energy supply are generated by on-shore wind energy and only around 10% of Latvia's 119 municipalities have some form of wind energy installation. With the exception of a few coastal communities, Latvia can be considered almost entirely as a wind energy scarce region.

 

However, on-shore wind energy could become an important source for Latvia's power supply. The energy policy until 2030 is oriented towards a) sustainable energy through promoting effective renewable energy resources technologies and energy efficiency measures and heading towards the achievement of the EU sustainability targets, and b) energy supply security through ensuring stable energy supply to energy consumers, reducing geopolitical risks, diversifying supply routes, and developing energy infrastructure.

 

To achieve this, Latvia aims to:

  • diversify its primary energy sources;
  • increase the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption and final consumption of energy in transport;
  • make its heating market more efficient (improvement of the regulatory framework, reconstruction and construction of district heating sources, transmission and distribution systems);
  • improve its energy efficiency (improvement of the regulatory framework, enhancement of energy efficiency in buildings and industrial sector, public awareness and education activities, implementation of Ecodesign requirements).

 

The policy also sets indicative targets for widespread use of renewable energy resources (>50%), reduction of energy and energy resource imports from existing third-country suppliers (50%) and reduction of the average heat consumption for heating (-50% compared to 2009, 100 kWh/m2 by 2030).

 

Most Member States, and European regions, have introduced similar measures to boost Renewable Energy Source (RES) generation and storage in their regional Research and Innovation Strategies (RIS3), national energy strategic plans, and their respective regional Investment programmes for Growth and Jobs, but most Members States still remain below the expected RES 2020 targets. States are not looking for new solutions such as energy storage or innovative financial schemes. The RES sector is requiring new supporting schemes, capable of unlocking the great potential of private investment by overcoming the financial, legal and administrative barriers in decentralized investment for both, RES generation and storage. 

 

Collaborating towards a common goal

The Interreg Europa co-financed project: “Financial Instruments for Renewable Energy Investment – FIRESPOL” seeks to boost regionally - specialized and decentralized Renewable Energy Private Investment, by introducing improvements in the management of Operational Programmes (OPs) which will break the financial barriers currently stopping the investment of the RES sector. The objective is to create, inside the OPs, new supporting schemes such as Financial Instruments or new grants schemes, which can achieve the same socioeconomic impacts as Financial Instruments.  The project is active in Spain, Croatia, Ireland, Germany, Poland and Latvia and is implemented in the latter through the Latvian ministry of regional development and environmental protection. 

 

The WinWind project team from the Latvian Environmental Investment Fund has been given the opportunity to cooperate with FIESPOL with the aim to facilitate the knowledge exchange and outcomes between both projects towards creating a collection of proposals for the Ministry of Regional and Environmental development, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Economics. These recommendations will be a good starting point to create new laws, regulations, processes that will ensure the RES share increasing in Latvia. The WinWind project team regularly attends the FIRESPOL project working group meetings developing the recommendations, together with the ministries involved.

 

WinWind had the opportunity to present the preliminary project results and best practice cases identified, especially the different financing mechanisms focusing on citizen involvement, such as local cooperatives as owners of wind parks, national tax policy to support small-scale win park creation, or auctions for wind park shares as a way to finance wind park construction. During an excursion to Poland in early 2019, a Win Wind project representative from the Latvian Environmental Investment Fund shared their knowledge and vison about financing instruments and the sector development with representatives from all FIRESPOL countries, and engaged into discussion on taking account national specifics when creating financing instruments for RES project support.

 

Conclusion

One of the most important aspects to be integrated in financial instruments for RES projects are financing terms, which facilitate the increase of social acceptance. The involvement in the FIRESPOL working group allows the WinWind project to integrate the terms identified in the wind energy sector in policy recommendations and ultimately in national policies.

 

Sources:

 

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