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Latvia's renewable energy expansion reduces dependence on Russian imports

Latvia's growing reliance on renewable energy is diminishing its dependence on Russian energy imports, yet improvements in permitting processes and infrastructure upgrades are essential for continued progress. According to a policy review by the International Energy Agency (IEA), actions taken now to cut emissions will significantly impact Latvia's energy transition and its ambitious goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

The IEA's latest review, a significant step in Latvia's journey to becoming the IEA's 32nd member, was released following an invitation from IEA ministers in February.

Latvia has been increasing the share of renewables in its electricity generation, which now comprises about three-quarters of its power mix, predominantly from hydropower and biomass. This renewable energy base positions the country well to further cut emissions across its economy and achieve its renewable energy targets, including an updated goal to source nearly 60% of its final energy consumption from renewables by 2030.

Promoting fuel switching, new renewable energy projects

Despite this progress, other sectors such as transport and buildings remain heavily reliant on outdated energy-intensive infrastructure. The IEA report emphasizes the need for the government to focus on enhancing energy efficiency and promoting fuel switching in these areas to further decrease overall energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

To boost electrification within the energy sector and meet Latvia's broader climate goals, the report calls for creating a supportive environment for new renewable energy projects, particularly in wind and solar. Simplifying permitting processes and removing regulatory barriers are identified as key steps to attract new investments.

Energy Policy Review of Latvia 2024

The "Energy Policy Review of Latvia 2024" was unveiled at an event in Riga by IEA Deputy Executive Director Mary Warlick and Latvia’s Minister of Climate and Energy Kaspars Melnis.

The report notes that the establishment of a new Ministry of Climate and Energy in January 2023 has been crucial for achieving many of Latvia's energy and climate objectives. As Latvia enters the next phase of its energy transition, the report provides several recommendations, including developing a comprehensive electricity sector roadmap to accommodate a growing share of renewables, thus providing greater certainty for investors.

The report also identifies significant opportunities for improving energy efficiency in Latvia's existing building stock, necessitating sustained financial support for renovation and retrofitting projects. Incentives for upgrading to newer, more efficient vehicles, including electric models, could significantly cut transport sector emissions.

Given Latvia's interconnected energy system with its Baltic neighbors, the report stresses the importance of coordinated energy transition strategies across the region. The In?ukalns underground natural gas storage facility has played a crucial role in regional energy security following the 2022 ban on Russian gas imports. The anticipated closure of thermal electricity generation in the region will further highlight the need for robust interconnection capacity to maintain energy security and stabilize prices.


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