Offshore wind holds potential key for Latvia to achieve energy self-sufficiency


by Anu Eslas & Edijs Šaicans  

Throughout Europe, the top priorities are ensuring security of supply and diversifying fuel supplies at affordable prices – as quickly as possible. Accelerating the expansion of renewable energies is one answer to the current energy crisis.

Renewable sources are the key to a cleaner, more affordable, more secure, and more independent energy system. The Baltic Sea offers enormous potential for fast-tracking this transition – especially off the Latvian coast. Currently, Latvia’s dependency on natural gas is relatively high. Although Latvia’s energy portfolio has been well-balanced so far, with a substantial share of renewables accounting for more than 60% of local electricity generation. The remainder is sourced from natural gas and Latvia is dependent on electricity imports. Demand is expected to rise even more in future with increasing electrification. Latvia’s untapped offshore wind potential is estimated to be around 15 GW. This potential could be converted to reliable, stable and economically feasible green electricity, with an annual output of around 60 TWh. “It is obvious that all renewable technologies are needed for a successful energy transition. Meanwhile, offshore wind will be one key source, which could bring huge benefits to society in the form of cheaper, more predictable electricity prices throughout the year”, explains Anu Eslas, VP Offshore Wind Development Baltic States at RWE. What is needed to stimulate the expansion of wind power off the Latvian coast? “First of all, the right legislative framework is needed. We should take the opportunity to learn from our neighbours and other countries in Europe and adopt the best practices”, says Eslas. “That would help attract investors to offshore wind auctions, and benefit both the public and the environment”. The Dutch Hollandse Kust West VII tender, in which RWE was successful, could serve as an example. This auction system involves comparative assessment on qualitative measures, combined with a financial bid. “Furthermore, grid extensions and the refinement of fuels based on green hydrogen could support local generation and accommodate demand in future. This would also provide sufficient export capabilities for future growth and system stability”, explains Edijs Šaicāns, Project Lead Latvia at RWE Offshore Wind. However, the key factor is speed. “It is essential to act swiftly to utilise offshore wind opportunities sooner rather than later”, adds Šaicāns. The energy transition must proceed in an economically feasible, technologically open way. Words and targets must be converted into action to lead Latvia towards self-sufficiency and reduce dependency on natural gas, while ensuring cheaper, more stable and reliable electricity to boost the Latvian economy.