In the Latvian-Russian border area, a bush-covered hill near the city of Zilupe, where the population had installed an illegal waste dump, is now turning into a solar power plant.
According to the works manager, Jānis Bērziņš, there are currently arrangements for the area, as well as the construction of the power plant: "There is a meadow right now. We'll smooth it out, drill metal poles into the ground and put up the scaffolding, and then we'll put solar panels in the southern direction. Almost the whole meadow will be built up. A road will be in the middle, dividing the hill into two parts, the eastern slope and the western slope, where a little more than 5 thousand panels with a total capacity of 2.8 megawatts will be constructed."
Bērziņš said that in Zilupe, the solar-panel park is adjacent to the local power plant. The capacity of the new power plant will provide “green” energy, which corresponds approximately to the total electricity consumption of the inhabitants of the city of Zilupe, while the additional electricity produced will be available to residents of Ludza and other municipalities of Latvia.
“This station will produce electricity and return it to the distribution network and then the electricity will be split. In theory, yes, the first electricity produced will be consumed by the local population. So Zilupe will be a “green” energy-consuming city. We plan to complete the assembly by the end of June, and the connection by the end of this year,” Bērziņš said.
The owner of the solar power plant is the Latvian investment company Merito, which has attracted experts from the company Saules Energy. The two companies implement the construction of nine power plants in Latvia, but the Zilupe solar power plant is the first, said Māris Plūme, executive board member of Saules Energy.
“Latvia does not produce as much energy as it consumes. And that deficit is particularly topical in summer months when the sun shines. Last July, 330 thousand megawatt hours were imported. To cover this deficit, we need 700 solar parks similar to what we are building in Zilupe at the moment. The potential is great and it is pleasing that not only we are working in this area, but also many others are attached to it, and Latvia will finally be no longer in the last place in Europe in terms of the use of solar energy,” noted Plūme.
In order to strengthen Latvia's energy independence, Merito will invest a total of €50 million in the creation of nine new solar power plants in Latvia's regions. Next year, in Latgale – Balvi municipality – another company is planning to build the largest solar panel park in the Baltic, which will take more than 1,000 hectares.