Solar panel park opens in Zilupe, eastern Latvia

A new solar power plant with a capacity of 2.8 megawatts has been constructed and commissioned in Ludza municipality, eastern border area of Latvia, Latgale regional television reported July 5.

It is one of a total of eight solar power plants that a Latvian investment company "Saules Energy" intends to build in the near future with a view to strengthening the country's energy independence. A total of two million euros have been committed to the creation.

The solar power plant has been constructed in less than a year, located right at the entry of the town Zilupe. The site, which was formerly an overgrown meadow, now has 5,000 solar panels.

“This electricity that is produced here goes on to the substation where it is further distributed. And this was one of the main factors at the time we were looking for this capacity or place, then the Zilupe substation was one where this spare capacity was available,” explained Artūrs Plūme, Chairman of the Saules Energy Board.

The Zilupe solar power plant is expected to produce around 3,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year. Experts estimate that this is sufficient to supply electricity to around 1,300 households. Primarily, the electricity produced here will be consumed by Zilupe. However, a boom of solar energy production is experienced throughout Latvia.

"We're already actually witnessing this boom in solar parks, we were looking at last Sunday that virtually all day there was almost all solar energy and actually the price was already at 0 [euro] and even sometimes minus. If not this year, on sunny days next year, we will certainly be able to provide ourselves with the capacity needed for solar energy," said Sandis Jansons, chairman of the power distribution network. This is an important step in strengthening Latvia's energy independence.

Jansons said that on a daily basis, five to ten solar-panel systems are connected to the electricity grid, and a number of solar-panel parks are still in the construction phase. As a result, in the near future, the challenge of how and where to store renewable energy is highlighted.

“There are exactly as many permits as our distribution networks can take. And there shouldn't be problems. Another story is where we can consume that electricity, redirect it. Can we export it and become an energy exporting country,” Jansons said.

In addition to Zilupe, the investment company plans to set up seven new solar power plants, including Valmiera, Rūjiena, Inčukalns, Koknese, Carnikava, Cēsis and Daugavpils, with a total investment of around €50 million.

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