Swedish renewable energy firm Eulus Vind AB’s 51-turbine wind project has been rejected by the Latvian Wind Energy Association (LWEA) after it failed to pass environmental protection standards of the country.
Chairman of LWEA, Kristaps Stepanovs said that the Eolus Vind’s Latvian branch failed to pass the Environmental Impact Assessment because the technology used by the company for the project was not suitable for environment. One example he stated is that the authority requested that the tip height to be smaller than the proposed 240 metres.
The concerns about the 250 million euro wind project’s technological side as well as location and landscape were raised by the public authority and the company failed to address these concerns. The residents of the Dobele and Tukums regions opposed the development of the project. The locals are concerned that the wind project would impact the quality of life. The decision by LWEA is the latest impediment to the project which faced difficulties in its development right from the beginning.
Eolus Vind expected subsidies for the project from the state but the head of communications at the Latvian Ministry of Economics, Evita Urpena rejected any request for aid stating that the company did not request any state aid initially. She said that under the new Mandatory Procurement Mechanism framework, no new rights have been granted since 2011. So there was no ground for asking direct aid from the state.
She added that the ministry initially welcomed the wind project plan after considering possible benefits by increased renewable energy production in the country and its intended capacity. Though the company has not abandoned the plan completely but the denial from the Latvian Wind Energy Association reported that the project would not come to fruition.
The construction of the wind park was planned for early 2019 and it was expected to complete by 2022. It would have been the largest wind power plant in Latvia. The plant’s capacity of 0.7 TWh would have been enough to meet 10% of the country’s total power consumption. The Swedish company ranks among the largest developers of wind parks in the Nordic countries. Founded in 1990, the company has built 540 turbines out of 3400 wind turbines in Sweden.
Foreign companies have invested around 300,000 euros in Latvia’s wind sector and there are several new projects in assessment stage in Latvia, according to LWEA’s Stepanovs. The bulk of the invested money went only for management salaries and no concrete projects were realized. The country has high wind potential and a great landscape but the absence of subsidies for wind projects has hampered investment in the field.
The Latvian ministry is currently working on National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 which will be complete by 2019 end. The draft plan expects renewable energy to account for 45% share in final energy consumption of Latvia in 2030. One of the main objectives set for the renewable energy projects is cost-efficient development. Currently 70% of electricity demand of the country is met by hydropower.
Urpena said that hydropower plants on river Daugava will continue to maintain a significant share in Latvia’s RES electricity production. The country wants to gradually shift to non-hydro RES electricity over the next decade.