- EUR 720 million has been allocated to connect the Baltic electricity market with the EU.
- Currently, the Latvian system works in parallel with the Russian and Belarusian systems.
- Latvia will invest 100 million euros in the installation of synchronous compensators.
- Equipment is needed to ensure frequency stability affected by wind farms.
- Switching from one system to another will not be felt by consumers.
- The electricity transmission tariff could increase by 15%.
- This is a small part of the final electricity tariff.
- In addition, it will be possible to buy more cheap electricity from the Nordic countries.
- This is also a strategically important project for Brussels.
Consumers will not feel the transition
“Currently, we have been working in parallel with the electricity systems of Russia and Belarus since the Soviet Union, and currently the frequency of our countries is regulated by the Russian system. The overarching goal is the energy security and independence of the Baltic States, ”explains Arnis Staltmanis, a member of the Board of the Latvian electricity transmission system operator Augstsprieguma tīkls (AST).
AST is currently working to connect our energy markets with the rest of the European Union (EU) in five years’ time. In the second phase of the large-scale project, it is planned to invest 100 million euros in Latvia. Staltmanis indicated that they are intended for the installation of synchronous compensators.
What will the synchronization of the Baltic electricity market bring to consumers?Cynthia Ambote, Artyom Konohov00:00 / 08:02
“By 2024, three synchronous compensators will be installed in Grobiņa, Ventspils and Līksna. These devices are needed to ensure the artificial inertia of the system, as the trend in recent years has unfortunately shown that the number of wind farms in the Baltic States is declining and increasing, but their generators are built on other technologies, and we need this to ensure frequency stability. specific equipment, ”explained Staltmanis.
“The whole process of synchronization with continental Europe and desynchronization from the Eastern neighbors is intended in such a way that the consumer, the user, should not feel it in the least,” Staltmanis pointed out.
Energy expert Juris Ozoliņš pointed out that if Latvia needed to disconnect from the Russian system, it would be done in an emergency mode already now, but with the European synchronization project, funds are available that allow it to do so by investing in the latest technologies.
“If we look at it a bit historically, then in 1995 we expressed our wishes in our strategy and prepared the energy system for such a connection with Europe. We have also already experimented with disconnection from the Russian system, and it can be added that the Kaliningrad enclave has already tested itself for isolation from the European system. Because here, of course, it costs something, but it is done for the security of the system, ”said Ozoliņš.
“The paradox is that the consumer has no way to assess the security of the system before something happens to it.
Just as the consequences of war cannot be assessed until it has happened. In case of technical failures or failures, then in such circumstances it is necessary to live in that moment, but this is organized as a risk-free event with strong support of the European Union solidarity, ”the expert explained.
In addition to the security aspect, it is also important that a connected electricity market with the rest of Europe will promote equalization of prices and give electricity producers free trade opportunities in this area, Staltmanis pointed out. In turn, the impact on tariffs will be small.
“If we look at all the projects already implemented in the previous phase, currently active projects and all future projects, then the electricity transmission tariff could increase by about 15%. However, it should be noted that this does not mean that the price to the end user will increase by this amount, as the transmission tariff is a small part of the “Distribution Network” tariff, which is less than half of the final price for electricity. But the positive thing is that all these projects increase the capacity of the transmission network, and our future forecasts show that renewable electricity will develop especially in the Nordic countries and we will be able to get much more cheap electricity from these countries, ”Staltmanis predicted.
Baltic electrical safety is also important at EU level
The synchronization of the Baltic electricity network with the rest of Europe is also considered strategically important in Brussels.
The synchronization of the Baltic electricity market with the rest of Europe is sometimes compared with the high-speed railway project “Rail Baltica”. Both are intended to end the isolation of the Baltic States by connecting it to the European rail network in one case and to the electricity network in the other.
The strategic importance of the project is partly confirmed by the fact that both the former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the current head Urzula von der Leiena are happy to speak about it in public.
“This project will reduce the region’s over-dependence and reliance on one energy supplier, harmoniously connecting it with the rest of the European Union. It is also forward-looking. The new wind farms in the Baltic Sea will provide electricity from renewable sources to all countries around the sea. All this proves that in our Union, wherever you are geographically, you are always in the heart of Europe, ”said Urzula von der Leiena.
Thus, the synchronization of the electricity market could potentially also increase the use of renewable energy resources in our region. And this is important because the European Union is setting increasingly ambitious targets for the fight against climate change.
In his speech, von der Leiena mentioned the declaration signed by eight European countries on the development of joint wind farms in the Baltic Sea. The document talks about the need to work together to develop offshore wind farms as effectively as possible.
Wind Europe represents the interests of the wind industry in Brussels. Its director, Jaile Dixon, says cooperation is crucial. He praises the future wind farm that Estonia and Latvia want to build together. This will cover 20% of both countries’ electricity consumption.
“This wind farm will be located in the Baltic Sea and will be connected to both Latvia and Estonia. It will be a joint project that is just fantastic! This means that if at some point there will be a higher demand for energy in Latvia than in Estonia, then electricity will be able to be routed there first and vice versa. In this way, resources are pooled and not only money is saved, but also the sea area, ”Diksons pointed out.
Dixon also mentions a wind farm that Poland and Denmark want to develop near the island of Bornholm. Cooperation between countries can also be important in planning matters, says the director of Wind Europe.
“Each of the eight countries now has to think about how they plan their maritime space, how the future wind farms will affect shipping lanes, fishing areas, military zones, nature reserves. Countries can help each other! ” said Dixon.
The electricity market synchronization project also has an impact not only on the countries bordering the Baltic Sea. Lithuanian President Gitan Nauseda reminded that after the synchronization of the Baltic electricity market with the rest of Europe, our region will no longer be technically able to purchase electricity from the new nuclear power plant in Belarus.
“It is important that we have managed to reach a common position that no electricity will be purchased from the Astravjec nuclear power plant. We have succeeded. And I think that is essential for our solidarity, because the Astravjec nuclear power plant is still unsafe, ”said Nauseda.
The major project is expected to be completed in five years. More than one billion euros have already been allocated to it from European Union funds. But these are not the final costs of the project.