The main tasks of the Latvian Member Committee are to cooperate with the World Energy Council and the other National Committees, as well as other national and international energy organizations; encourage domestic energy exploration, extraction, recycling and efficient use; promote the transportation of imported energy resources, conversion and use in all respects; address energy supply problems taking into account social and environmental aspects; act as an information coordinator to work with other energetic problem solving organizations; participate in congresses, assemblies, conferences, forums, and other events and to organize them; and disseminate information on its activities.
Namejs Zeltins has been the Chair of the Latvian Member Committee of the World Energy Council since 2001. He is also a Member of the European WEC Group, a Member of the Board of the National Energy Confederation, and a Professor at Riga Technical University. He is a Learned Secretary of the Nuclear Energy Competence Centre of LAS and a Member of the Advisory Editorial Board of Polish AS “Energy Policy Journal. He is the Head of the Energy Efficiency Centre, IPE LAS. His academic interests include fuel and energy complex planning, heat and gas supply systems, the energy market and energy utilisation.
Energy in Latvia
The energy sector has a direct impact on the growth of the economy and contributes a significant share of total costs. The most important factor for industrial growth is the lowest possible sustainable energy price and the development of the energy sector requires significant investments along with a stable and predictable investment environment (Latvian Energy Long - Term Strategy 2030).
Following two years of rapid growth, the investment dynamics in Latvia have slowed down. As the addition of EU structural funds approaches the maximum level, the growth rate of investment activities becomes more and more moderate (Latvia's Macroeconomic Review 2020). Private investment has grown over the past year. Still, in 2020 the growth rate was almost three times slower than a year earlier (Latvia Statistics In Brief 2020). The investment dynamic is likely to be more modest in the coming years. Since the external environment and the low level of lending are still uncertain, investment momentum may weaken (Latvia 's Macroeconomic Review 2020).
Comparing the indicators of the Latvian power grid operator (energy supply) with operators in other European countries, it can be concluded that power supply safety in Latvia is close to the average level in Europe. In relation to voltage quality, it has met the standard 83% of the time. The problems are related with the long power supply lines built in the 1970s.
At the end of February 2020, various international organisations predicted a strong V-scenario, a short-term downturn, followed by a rapid rebound. A U-type scenario currently seems more feasible, which would mean that the downturn phase will last longer than at least six months, but an even longer downturn due to Covid-19 cannot be ruled out. According to the Ministry of Economics, the overall impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on GDP could be between 4 and 8 percentage points, compared to the forecast made at the beginning of 2020 (LR Ministry of Economics 2020).
Latvia is interested in active participation in the implementation of international and regional cooperation activities. By engaging in cross-border activities, Latvia has a better chance of successfully defending national interests in developing joint solutions with other member states in the region.
The most common renewable energy sources in Latvia are biomass and hydropower. Opportunities to develop wind power and solar energy segments are still open. To achieve the target set for Latvia in the EU RES Directive, it will be necessary to use the existing potential and evaluate the additional possibilities offered by the RES Directive, such as improving the net accounting system of electronic energy, introducing statistical transmission of RES, joint projects and harmonised state support schemes.
The most important measures concern the interconnections of the Baltic energy market, the common energy market and energy security issues. In a cross-border context, it is important to coordinate actions between the Baltic states that affect not only infrastructure and electricity connections, but also the flow of energy resources (both fossil fuels, biomass and biofuels) between the Baltic states.