The main tasks of the Latvian Member Committee are to cooperate with the World Energy Council and the other National Committees, as well as other national and international energy organizations; encourage domestic energy exploration, extraction, recycling and efficient use; promote the transportation of imported energy resources, conversion and use in all respects; address energy supply problems taking into account social and environmental aspects; act as an information coordinator to work with other energetic problem solving organizations; participate in congresses, assemblies, conferences, forums, and other events and to organize them; and disseminate information on its activities.
Namejs Zeltins has been the Chair of the Latvian Member Committee of the World Energy Council since 2001. He is also a Member of the European WEC Group, a Member of the Board of the National Energy Confederation, and a Professor at Riga Technical University. He is a Learned Secretary of the Nuclear Energy Competence Centre of LAS and a Member of the Advisory Editorial Board of Polish AS “Energy Policy Journal. He is the Head of the Energy Efficiency Centre, IPE LAS. His academic interests include fuel and energy complex planning, heat and gas supply systems, the energy market and energy utilisation.
Energy in Latvia
The structure of primary energy consumption in Latvia is based on three main components: oil products, fuel wood and charcoal, and natural gas. The Latvian Energy Long Term Strategy 2030 sets a target of 50% energy from renewable energy sources and a 50% reduction in energy imports by 2030. An ongoing renovation of Latvia’s hydroelectric power plants as well as the reconstruction of natural gas CCGT plants have allowed the country to sustain its low level of GHG emissions in the power sector. CHP projects using biomass are also in progress and wind projects are awaiting renewable energy sources (RES) support schemes.
Through membership of the European Union and NATO, Latvia is an independent country with ties to the West. National monitoring of Latvia is strongly influenced by geopolitical uncertainties, such as cooperation among countries and regions. Latvia is strongly influenced by EU Cohesion and Russia. In the economic sphere, the country remains under significant Russian influence, which includes restrictions on Latvian natural gas imports.
The most important instrument of the EU policy on the promotion of renewable energy is the RES Directive. Action priorities taken to achieve the renewable energy target include evaluation of existing RES potential and additional possibilities offered by the Directive, like improvement of the net accounting system of electronic energy, introduction of statistical transmission of RES, joint projects and harmonised state support schemes.
Energy efficiency plays an important role in improvement of heat supply and development of the industrial sector.
Natural gas plays an important role in Latvia’s structure of primary energy resources. The Latvian natural gas supply system is not directly connected to the systems of other EU Member States, except Lithuania and Estonia. Since the Klaipeda LNG terminal is in operation, it has been possible to diversify LNG import from Russia. Still, Russia remains a significant issue for the Latvian energy sector due the historical cooperation.
The main political challenges are to prevent market failures, achieve energy policy neutrality and avoid improperly promoted uneconomic incentives for ensuring RES development. The new RES-E support scheme was drafted by the Ministry of Economy. The phasing-out of tax for energy subsidies was expected from 2018.
EU Cohesion complements and promotes the development of energy policy by supporting research and innovation. Cohesion policy provides the necessary investment framework and strategy to meet the growth targets.
Latvia is interested in active participation in the implementation of international cooperation activities and regional integration. By engaging in cross-border activities, Latvia has a better chance of successfully defending national interests in developing joint solutions with other member states in the region.
Climatic conditions make heat supply an important part of the energy sector in Latvia. Improvement of heat supply processes is important both in terms of energy efficiency and efficient use of resources and environmental protection. Energy efficiency plays an important role in EU energy policy. Raising energy efficiency in the industrial sector is closely linked to the implementation of the EU sustainable development strategy and a balance between economic growth and cleaner production
The most common renewable energy sources in Latvia are biomass and hydropower, where significant R&D capacity has been developed to maintain a sustainable growth of domestic industries and to assist the country’s partners abroad. Opportunities to develop wind and solar energy are still open. To achieve the target set for Latvia in the EU Renewable Energy Directive, it is necessary to use the existing potential for the development of RES and to evaluate the additional possibilities offered by the Renewable Energy Directive, such as the improvement of the net accounting system of electronic energy, the introduction of statistical transmission of RES, joint projects and harmonised state support schemes.
The structure of energy supply in Latvia can be considered as balanced and sufficiently diversified. Energy efficiency plays an important role in EU energy policy. To ensure Latvia’s energy supply system integration in the regional and EU energy markets, Latvia needs a long-term vision for the development of the energy sector.
Critical Uncertainties such as Russia, Energy Subsidies and EU Cohesion remained relevant and changes are not expected in 2019. Russia remains a significant factor for Latvian energy sector due to the geopolitical and historical context. Action priorities should still include solutions for renewable energy, energy efficiency, regional cooperation and integration and stable commodity prices.