Lithuania is on the verge of a second wind power boom

Growth then flattened out, with just a handful of MW added each year until 2009 when a remarkable 37 MW of additional wind farm capacity came online.

Today, the total Lithuanian wind energy capacity stands at 91 MW. “This is an impressive rate of growth,” Jacopo Moccia, Regulatory Affairs Advisor at EWEA said.

According to EWEA’s calculations, by 2020 the country could have up to 1,100 MW in place, which would mean approximately 85 MW of new wind turbines capacity installed each year up until then.

With a wind power boom in sight, Lithuania is well on course to meet its 2020 renewable energy target – a 23% share of renewable energy in the overall mix.

Right now wind power accounts for just under 2%, but this should rise to 13% by 2020. A government document forecasting the increase in renewable energy said: “In Lithuania, wind turbines are one of the fastest growing renewable energy technologies”.

Not only is the government’s drive to boost renewable energy spurred by EU targets, but also by Lithuania’s dependence on Russian gas for its electricity and heating.

Up until the end of 2009, Lithuania was self-sufficient in energy with one nuclear power plant meeting about 70% of the country’s electricity demand.

However, the Ignalia plant was doomed since it was designed along lines very similar to those of the failed Chernobyl plant. In its 2004 European Union accession agreement, the Lithuanian government agreed to shut down the plant – and this happened at 11pm on 31 December 2009 – leaving an energy vacuum for Gazprom to fill.

Lithuania’s dependence on Russia is heightened by the fact that its electricity grid has little interconnection with other countries in central or northern Europe, making it, effectively and energy island.

From 2007, the government set out to incorporate renewable energies in its national energy strategy. National laws include a feed-in tariff of around €87 per MW. The country’s wind farms are mostly situated near its Baltic coast, and in the southern region.

Although Lithuania’s shores border one of the biggest prospective sources of energy in Europe – offshore wind power from the Baltic Sea – the country is yet to explore offshore wind.

Before this can happen, new rules must be designed to support offshore wind power and new infrastructure must be built. With this untapped source of energy on its doorstep, the country’s potential for wind power could rise considerably, starting from 2020 or 2030.