Two wind parks are currently operating in Latvia – in Grobiņa and in Ventspils. Both produce half of the wind energy generated in Latvia – 40 MW, the other half is produced in individual turbines and the total capacity is 80 MW. The head of the Latvian Wind Energy Association, Toms Nāburgs, says that the next wind parks will also be built in Kurzeme. Until now, the development process of wind parks has been hampered by both disorderly legislation and public objections.
"One new wind park is under construction, which is likely to be ready by the end of next year near Ventspils with a capacity of 58.8 MW. There is a plan to build at least one wind park at sea by 2030. The coast of Kurzeme is a logical choice, primarily because the wind is running unobstructed through the sea.
"But it is not that there is no wind in the rest of Latvia, wind parks will also be in Latgale and Vidzeme. It is the electricity from the wind and the sun that will be the cheapest electricity, as it is in all our interests, so that these clean technologies are developed quickly and in large quantities," said Nāburgs.
Although a survey conducted by the Wind Energy Association shows that 80% of the population supports the construction of wind parks, the real situation in the last 10 years, according to Nāburgs, is that there is a lack of political and legislative support.
"Latvia's biggest problem is that it is not possible to harmonize projects in principle, and this is due to the fact that it is simply too complicated. The state has created such a complicated mechanism that it is almost unrealistic to obtain a building permit. The problem is, when the project is to be harmonized, [..] people conceptually support green energy, but they do not want these projects in a particular municipality or in a particular area,” said Nāburgs.
Residents and municipalities objected to the construction of wind parks in Tukums and Dobele. Andris Akermanis, Latvian Association of Local Government (LPS) advisor on energy issues, says that until now the state has not done enough to correct legislation and explain the situation to citizens.
"In Latvia, this renewable electricity is vitally needed, because we are not able to provide for ourselves, even by using Russian gas. [..] Wind can deliver quite large volumes. The negative side for wind energy – vibration, taking up spaces, some birds will be killed by these large wings. In the municipal union, we have decided that it is necessary to compensate for this inconvenience: either cheaper electricity must be supplied to the population or the inhabitants set up an energy community and the owners of wind parks pay a certain percentage to that community, approximately 1.5% of the electricity profits produced. This is not much, I think because wind developers use infrastructure – high-voltage transmission lines to which they connect, roads, and many other things,” Akermanis says.
Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics for Energy, Edijs Šaicāns, said that according to scientific forecasts, Latvia is planning to develop two strands – solar panels that will be used more for self-consumption and large projects for wind energy development that will not be financially supported by the State.
"They work in the free market by nature, then compete with each other, so that there should be no unfair competition between projects, but we can work on improving regulation to reduce barriers. [..] Second, we look at how to give some kind of bonuses, incentives also to municipalities and local residents [..] We also have amendments to the law, where we foresee such a support mechanism that would allow them to improve the environment in which they live and the infrastructure they use. This could be one of the elements of the carrot that would give municipalities a positive view, so that the environment in which they stay and live is also improving,” said Šaicāns.
By 2030, Latvia plans to install 800 MW of wind power capacity, which means 10 times more than currently. Estonia's plan is 1000 MW and Lithuania has a plan of 2000 MW wind power capacity.