Latvia’s National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 (NECP) is taking its final shape.  On 21 October, its draft environmental review was published for public consultation. Prepared by a consultancy Enviroprojekts in line with the procedure of strategic environmental assessment for planning documents, the review aims to identify and evaluate environmental impacts brought forward by the policy measures in the NECP. While modest in criticism and generally supportive of NECP’s basis scenario, Enviroprojekts‘ assessment takes a rather negative stance on local impacts of wind energy.

The former draft NECP completed in 2018 has been significantly elaborated following the recommendations of the European Commission and discussed among the sectoral ministries and other stakeholders. Both Commission and environmental organisations noted that the renewable energy target 45% for 2030 was too low for rapid decarbonisation of Latvia’s energy sector. Currently, the latest version of the NECP proposes a 50% renewable share.

The NECP projects ~ 13% growth in woody biomass demand in the next decade. However, the environmental reviewers contend that national consumption does not pose any threats to sustainable forestry.

Installation of ~ 100 onshore and offshore wind turbines is the main change that Enviroprojekts considers as ‘dual’ and potentially negative on a local scale, however, globally beneficial.

The public consultation will last until November 20. Hopefully, the strategic environmental assessment procedure will finish with paying more justice to the prospects of wind energy without posing new barriers against non-biomass renewables in Latvia.

*Woody biomass is the dominant RES (80,9% in 2018) consumed in Latvia.

*Merely 1% of electricity in Latvia is generated from wind.

Expected environmental impacts according to Enviroprojekts:

Biodiversity – minus 1

Minor negative impact due to risks for birds and bats caused by new wind turbine installations

Forest resources – zero

Insignificant impacts despite the projected growth (13%) in woody biomass consumption

Water resources – zero

No impacts

Soil – plus 1

Minor but positive impact

Subterranean resources – zero

Insignificant impacts of peat use in energy sector

Atmospheric air quality – plus 1

Positive impact on reduction of NO, Pm 2,5

Climate change – plus 3

Expected decrease in GHG emissions is 17.6% (2016 vs.2030)

Landscapes – minus 1

Installation of ~ 100 new turbines resulting in landscape change

Cultural heritage – zero

Risks related to wind turbine siting

Noise level – minus 1

Local noise pollution caused by new wind turbines, insignificant on a national scale

Trans-boundary impacts – plus 1

Contribution to global climate change mitigation and reduction of fossil fuel use

Overall impact – plus 3


Green Liberty’s work on energy and climate policy is supported by CEE Bankwatch Network and European Climate Foundation

image: www.equinoxaccess.com