Solar park development in Latvia gains momentum

The development of solar parks in Latvia has gained momentum in the last two years, and in the near future, the first solar parks that are currently under development will begin to bear fruit. The interest in developing solar parks in Latvia is shown by both local and foreign investors. Competition for free capacity is huge because grid capacity is exhausted, Latvian Radio reported on September 13.

Already during the pandemic, there was a growing interest in the use of solar energy in Latvia at both industrial and individual levels, since two years ago the government adopted a national energy and climate plan, which states that the introduction of any renewable resources could take place without any restrictions, said Dmitrijs Skoruks, director of the Department of Sustainable Energy Policy of the Economics Ministry (EM). Skoruks said that agreements are being made and construction stages could begin in 2025 and 2026."

Skoruks highlighted a trend that international investors are cooperating with locals. Partnerships are being formed, and the necessary capacity is purchased in Latvia. State capital companies are also developing solar parks. Latvenergo has considerable plans, operating throughout the Baltic, said Ivars Inkins, head of development of the company Saules parki.

“The projects of solar parks in Lithuania and Estonia have progressed more rapidly so far, but there is currently a sharp increase in Latvia. Investments are worth tens of millions of euros. The long-term target is 600 megawatts of solar parks in the Baltic. Of these, approximately 50 megawatts of solar parks in Latvia are in development stage in the coming year,” Inkins said.

As regards competition, Inkins said that the fight for free capacity is ongoing and competition among developers is felt.

“We are feeling foreign investment in Latvia directly in the solar park market. Competition for free capacity with connections to [distribution and transmission networks] is undeniable. Whether the developer is a private or state capital company, these conditions of competition are absolutely the same. We are in the same position with any private developer,” Inkins said.

 Gatis Lazda, Chairman of the Board of the Estonian renewable energy producer Evecon, said that the development of solar parks is of great interest to the large energy companies that have announced their investment plans, but this is a matter of concern and confusion because the grid has exhausted capacity.

Evecon plans to build six new solar parks in Latvia this year and next year, investing €30 million.

"We have reserved capacity, started the projects, bought the land, and there is confusion where 800 megawatts will appear. As I said, the grid is as it is, and it is governed by laws of physics. We as energy experts don't understand – whether we know something insufficiently or whether something will take a different turn," Lazda said.

According to Lazda, the rules of play differ among municipalities. One sees it that the relaxed rules can be applied, another needs all permits. Lazda said that "it should be a joint process with clear rules so investors are not afraid." 

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