Utilising solar power plants to harness the boundless power of the sun can deliver clean, renewable power and pave the way to green energy transition.
Onshore wind is an unlimited and renewable source of clean energy with a vital role to play in the global shift to green energy.
Projects under development, construction and in operation in the Baltic states and Poland.
Ignitis Renewables, an international green energy company, is preparing to build the country’s first offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea and, in compliance with the imposed requirements, has prepared an environmental impact assessment (EIA) programme for this project, which is of great importance to Lithuania’s energy sector. The environmental impact assessment itself will be prepared on the basis of this programme.
The preparation of the EIA programme is another milestone on the road to the successful implementation of the project. According to Anne-Marie Roikjær, Project Director for offshore wind farm, green energy is closely related to nature and its conservation. The protection of the Baltic Sea ecosystem is one of the key objectives of the company’s sustainability strategy.
“When we develop renewable energy projects, the environment is inevitably affected, but to achieve a balance between clean electricity generation and nature protection, we will take all appropriate measures to minimise the environmental impact of the offshore wind farm, and when the impact cannot be avoided, we will implement compensatory measures to improve the state of the environment,” says A. Roikjær.
According to the Project Director, throughout the development of the offshore wind farm the best international practices will be followed, including consultations with highly qualified professionals and experts from Lithuania and other countries, who will bring their experience and knowledge to the project in Lithuania. The objective is to ensure that the environmental impact assessment and procedures for this project meet not only Lithuanian requirements, but also the strictest European and international requirements.
According to Lina Žibienė, Head of Environment and Permitting at Ignitis Renewables, there are several objectives of the environmental impact assessment. First, it is necessary to identify and assess the impact of the planned wind farm on individual environmental components, i.e. land surface and areas below, air, water, landscape, and biodiversity, with particular attention paid to protected animal, plant species and areas.
L. Žibienė stresses that it is equally important to assess the impact on public health and other social aspects. The purpose of the environmental impact assessment is to ensure a high level of environmental protection and the integration of environmental aspects into the implementation of the project. Also, to provide for measures to avoid, minimise or compensate for possible negative impacts and to ensure that the planned activities comply with the requirements of the legislation and best practices on environmental impact, human health, cultural heritage and public safety.
The EIA report was commissioned by Ignitis Renewables. The assessment will be carried out and the report will be compiled by the Coastal Research and Planning Institute. The EIA report coordination procedures and a final decision on the environmental impact of the offshore wind farm is expected to be received by the end of 2025. This decision will be taken by the Environmental Protection Agency, after considering the comments submitted by the public and taking into account the conclusions of the entities of the EIA.
The report will assess the offshore wind farm planned in the Baltic Sea, whose designated maritime area is approximately 120 square kilometres. The farm area is located at least 36 km away from the shore, approximately 60 km away from the Port of Klaipėda. The depth ranges from 28 to 48 metres and the whole area falls within the zone of average annual wind speeds of 9–10 m/s. The potential number of wind turbines to be erected will be up to 55, with a maximum height of up to 350 metres.
The final technical parameters of the farm will depend both on the conclusions of the surveys carried out during the environmental impact assessment and on the technological and other conditions existing at the time. It is important to note that the wind speed and other measurements necessary for the implementation of the project, as well as geotechnical and geophysical surveys of the seabed as well as other preparations, which will be used during the EIA process as well, are currently in progress.
It is planned that the 700-megawatt (MW) wind farm in the Baltic Sea, which will be operational around 2030, could generate around 3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of green electricity per year, which would meet a quarter of Lithuania’s current electricity demand.
Ignitis Renewables, a leading international green energy company operating in the Baltic states and Poland, has made the final investment decision on its 239 megawatt (MW) solar portfolio in Latvia, the largest of its kind in the Baltic states, with construction works to commence in the first quarter of this year. This decision marks a significant milestone in the region’s journey towards decarbonisation and energy security and reaffirms Ignitis Renewables’ commitment to creating a green and secure energy ecosystem.
“Latvia is a part of our home market, where Ignitis Renewables is actively expanding its activities and sees great growth opportunities. A third of our total project pipeline is in Latvia. The decision to move forward with construction marks an important step in our expansion within the Baltic states and its broader strategy for green energy development,” stated Thierry Aelens, CEO at Ignitis Renewables.
He emphasises the strategic importance of this development. “This investment decision aligns perfectly with our mission to expand our green generation segment. These projects in Latvia are pivotal for our progress towards our goal to install 4–5 gigawatts (GW) of green generation capacities by 2030,” he stated.
This portfolio comprises three separate solar power plants in Latvia, a 94 MW Vārme solar project and a 145 MW Stelpe solar project, consisting of two stand-alone developments. In total, the installed capacity of the planned solar parks should reach up to 239 MW. This will be enough to cover the electricity demand of around 100,000 households in Latvia per year. With grid capacity fully secured for these installations, the projects are poised to significantly bolster the renewable energy production in the region.
The Vārme solar power plant will be in Vārme parish, Kuldīgas county, while the Stelpe power plants will be in Barbele and Stelpe parishes, Bauskas county. The construction of the solar power plants is expected to commence in in the first quarter of 2024, with completion and commercial operation scheduled for 2025. Additionally, wind hybridisation options have been identified for all solar power plants, aiming to utilise the same grid connection points.
The total investment for this ambitious initiative is estimated at up to EUR 178 million, encompassing both construction and project acquisition costs. Within the coming years, Ignitis Renewables is planning to invest around EUR 700 million in Latvia. Most of the investments will be directed towards renewable energy projects.
Emphasis on community engagement and support
Sustainable and close cooperation with communities that are located near the renewable energy projects in operation, under construction and under development is at the core of the company’s approach.
“Partnership with local communities is the basis of sustainable development of Ignitis Renewables. We care about the environment we work in, and so we are open to suggestions on how we could create a more sustainable world together. We want for our renewable energy projects in operation and under construction to create value for the entire region, local communities and business. A partnership based on mutual trust is important to us, so we try to listen to the needs of local communities and find opportunities for sustainable cooperation,” said Baiba Lāce, Head of Ignitis Renewables in Latvia.
Ignitis Renewables is pleased to announce the continuation of its community support initiative for the third consecutive year. This program will extend financial aid to local communities neighbouring the Vārme and Stelpe solar park projects.
Following the successful allocation of funds in the previous year to community projects in Lithuania and Poland, Ignitis Renewables reaffirms its commitment to enhancing local well-being. In 2023, the company allocated a total of EUR 350,000 to various projects, furthering its dedication to positively impact the regions surrounding its renewable energy projects.
Environmental protection is at the forefront throughout the projects’ development
Ignitis Renewables is pioneering a unique environmental protection initiative in their Vārme and Stelpe solar park projects, a first in Latvia. This initiative goes beyond the standard mandated environmental care practices, introducing a tailored program of environmental measures within solar parks under development by the company.
This program, initiated in collaboration with Latvian birds and mammal specialists, aims to not only safeguard local species but also enhance their habitat in areas surrounding the planned projects. Measures include installing hunting perches for predatory birds and creating safe passages for larger animals with ramps and special gates at the solar power plants.
Additionally, in partnership with experts from the Latvian Nature Foundation, Ignitis Renewables has developed a strategy to reintroduce natural meadow habitats and grasslands. Landscape professionals have also contributed, offering guidance for implementing measures that preserve the natural landscape. This holistic approach underscores Ignitis Renewables’ commitment to environmental protection in renewable energy development.
International green energy company Ignitis Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) through its Growth Markets Fund II are the winners of the auction-based competitive tender for development of an offshore wind farm in the Liivi 1 sea area in Estonia, having placed the highest bid in the amount of EUR 1.16 million.
Having previously won the Liivi 2 site in Estonia’s first offshore wind tender held in December 2023, Ignitis Renewables and CIP see the adjacent site of Liivi 1 as a natural extension of the seabed area which will allow for greater synergy and optimisation in developing the sites as a single offshore wind project.
The maritime area of both sites is located in the Gulf of Riga, northwest of Ruhnu Island, near Estonia’s Baltic Sea coast covering in total approximately 193 square kilometres. While the theoretical potential capacity of both sites is calculated to be 2.3 gigawatts (GW), depending on environmental impact assessment results, site optimization as well as other factors, the actual capacity of the offshore wind park will be 1–1.5 GW. The project is expected to become operational around 2035.
Ignitis Renewables and CIP have signed an agreement to collaborate exclusively on offshore wind opportunities in Estonia and Latvia. The partnership leverages Ignitis Renewables’ leading market position in the Baltic region and CIP’s global offshore wind expertise.
Having now secured both the Liivi 1 and Liivi 2 sea areas, CIP and Ignitis Renewables have a strategic position to optimize the scale and potential of the sites, representing a key investment in Estonia’s and the region’s transformation into a sustainable, long-term green energy hub in Europe.
Ignitis Renewables, an international green energy company, has appointed Anne-Marie Roikjær as Project Director for Lithuania’s first offshore wind farm developed together with Ocean Winds.
“We are thrilled to announce the appointment of A. Roikjær as our Project Director for the offshore wind farm in Lithuania. This marks a significant milestone in our journey towards delivering the first offshore wind project in the Baltics. This appointment is a clear indication of our commitment to this goal. Her impressive track record stands testament to the capability to lead such a significant and challenging project,” stated Thierry Aelens, CEO at Ignitis Renewables.
“I am very excited to join Ignitis Renewables, the leading green energy company in the Baltics and the development of offshore renewable energy in Lithuania. The offshore wind project is a cornerstone of this vision,” says A. Roikjær.
The newly appointed Project Director boasts an impressive professional background with extensive experience at Vattenfall, she served as Lead Technical Project Manager for the Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas offshore wind farms. Her responsibilities included overseeing the technical development of transmission grids and wind farms, ensuring compliance with project requirements and managing other significant aspects. Her prior roles at Bladt Industries and DONG Energy (Ørsted) further highlight her expertise in technical project management in the offshore wind sector.
This experience is particularly relevant as it aligns with Ignitis Renewables’ strategy of leveraging international expertise in local projects.
The Project Director will oversee project strategy development, detailed planning, site assessments, and selection of development solutions. The Director will be also responsible for securing all the necessary authorisations and permits for construction and operation and for managing extensive studies for regulatory compliance.
The offshore wind farm development is a crucial step towards Lithuania’s energy independence. This significant project will notably elevate local electricity production from renewable sources, thereby lessening dependence on imported electricity.
Engineering skills, high-altitude skills and a keen analytical mind. Wind turbine technicians are versatile. They are the people who help Ignitis Renewables, an international green energy company, ensure the smooth development of its wind farms, which is gaining momentum.
The most efficient performance of wind turbines is achieved through proper maintenance. This includes regular inspections for oil changes, various tests and inspections and repairs. Using specialised equipment, technicians inspect the blades of the wind turbine, the casing that houses the main components of the turbine, the tower itself, the generator and other components.
Ignitis Renewables is already starting to use advanced technology such as drones to assess the condition of wind turbines, but most maintenance and repair work is not automated.
Qualified engineers on staff
Virginijus Jagela, Head of Maintenance and Management at Ignitis Renewables, points out that the people involved in maintaining wind turbines have a highly analytical mindset. According to V. Jagela, they must be able to analyse individual system parameters, detect changes in them and understand their impact on the operation of the wind turbine.
V. Jagela points out that the maintenance of wind turbines involves specialists from various fields.
“Turbines are serviced by technicians who know electromechanics. They look after the generator and other electrical components. There are also mechanics who are responsible for operating and monitoring the gearbox and other mechanical components. They monitor the condition of the gearboxes, change the lubricants, monitor the condition of the tower and other similar tasks. Other specialist teams carry out tasks such as wing maintenance, etc. These people spend most of their time hanging on the blades and inspecting their surface. They look for cracks and repair them,” says an Ignitis Renewables expert.
He adds that wind turbine technicians also work on the power plants, maintaining their lifts and other lifting mechanisms. Cranes are also used for major repairs and are operated by specially trained teams.
“All the technicians are qualified electromechanical, automation or mechanical engineers. But that is not all, they also acquire specific knowledge by attending wind turbine maintenance training courses organised by the equipment manufacturers,” says V. Jagela.
A special focus on safety
Technicians usually work at very high altitudes of hundreds of metres, which puts turbine maintenance in a high-risk category. However, V. Jagela points out that all measures are taken to ensure the safety of the employees. For example, technicians are not allowed to work alone – all work is carried out simultaneously by at least two trained professionals who are also certified in high-altitude climbing and wind turbine safety.
Technicians wear personal protective equipment such as special clothing, safety boots, helmets and safety harnesses attached to anchor points. “When working in the cabin of a wind turbine, technicians must also carry rescue equipment to evacuate from the turbine in the event of a fire or other hazard,” says the maintenance and operations manager.
He adds that maintenance work on wind farms is only carried out in good weather conditions. According to V. Jagela, technicians are not allowed to work if the wind speed is too high and there is a high probability of lightning.
Monitoring, maintenance and repairs
Wind farms are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to V. Jagela, specialists at the dispatching centres constantly monitor the parameters of the turbines and record faults remotely.
According to the manager, maintenance work is planned in accordance with the manufacturer’s standards. He notes that turbine manufacturers routinely draw up long-term maintenance plans covering a period of up to 12 years. “Different work is carried out each year according to a fixed schedule. For example, the gearbox oil is changed every four years or so, and the blades are inspected every two years,” says the Ignitis Renewables expert.
Any faults detected by the specialists at the dispatch centre are rectified immediately. “All necessary repairs are carried out, regardless of their nature or extent. This can range from replacing sensors for a few hours to major repairs such as replacing bearings, blades or gearboxes. In the latter case, turbines can be shut down for months,” says V. Jagela.
He stresses that regular, high-quality maintenance of wind turbines is the only way to keep them in good condition. It is the timely maintenance and repair work that allows a wind turbine to operate for 25 or even 30 years.
More and more Lithuanian communities are actively utilising the financial support made available to them to improve their daily lives. Vydmantai is a good example of a community that successfully utilised financial support granted by Ignitis Renewables, an international green energy company. The largest village in Kretinga district has used the funds to light up the swimming area that has become a community attraction, improve their sports stadium and complete the electricity installation works for the new church and parsonage complex. Additionally, there are plans to erect a dome for an outdoor classroom and a stage for community and student activities in 2024.
“We see the financial support allocated to projects that are important to the communities not just as a measure to promote our renewable projects and garner support. Supporting community projects and ideas allow the responsible companies to build trust between citizens and businesses as well as support the development of rural areas. We see communities as partners that can help us reach the goals of green transition. That’s why we are especially proud of and support the communities that look for energy efficiency, renewable and other solutions that can coexist with the environment,” said Emilija Musteikytė, Community Projects Coordinator at Ignitis Renewables.
A community attraction in a new light
One of the projects has already been completed with the help of financial support provided by Ignitis Renewables. Lighting solutions powered by solar energy have been installed at the Vydmantai recreational zone, where residents can enjoy water activities. According to the Chair of the Vydmantai Community Centre, Simas Končius, the new lighting solutions already had their use both in summer and at the start of the cold season.
“During the summer, Vydmantai residents can play beach volleyball, camp and swim at our recreational and swimming area. You can often find the village kids having fun here, and people like to walk their pets nearby, and darkening sky doesn’t interrupt their recreational activities. As the autumn brings longer evenings, the lamps allow us to spend more time outside and improve security as well as help ensure public order at night,” told us S. Končius.
According to the Chair of the Village Community Centre, the community is glad that the implemented project is modern, environmentally friendly and promotes green energy at Vydmantai.
The refurbished stadium to make sports safer
Another project implemented in Vydmantai was upgrading the infrastructure of Vydmantai gymnasium by installing nets for catching balls. The headmistress of the gymnasium, Rasa Stonkuvienė, said that it was a joint decision made by the students, the teachers and the community footballers to upgrade the stadium.
“The gymnasium stadium is surrounded by thorny hedges, so when playing football, the balls would often be damaged or get into private properties. To avoid the resulting conflicts and to upgrade the barriers, it was decided to build a 90 metre fence for catching balls. This made the stadium, which is very important to the community, more attractive and functional,” said R. Stonkuvienė.
She notes that the entire gymnasium and village community engaged in the implementation of the project as volunteers helped with manual labour and preparations.
The long-awaited church and parsonage complex
Financial support was also utilised for another project that is important to the community, electricity installation works for the new church and parsonage complex that are under construction. During the installation works, electricity lines were laid up to the foundations of the new church and parsonage.
“Church and parsonage construction works are being very closely followed by all Vydmantai residents and the entire parish. In the context of these uncertain times, it’s important to create a safe environment that benefits people’s wellbeing, covers spiritual and cultural needs,” said Karolis Petravičius, priest of Vydmantai parish.
Each of the representatives of Vydmantai village is confident that the financial support provided by businesses is important and beneficial, so they expect to take advantage of it in the future by implementing other projects that the community needs and that improves their daily lives.
Vydmantai community and school submitted separate projects and secured financial support for a dome for an outdoor classroom and a stage for community and student activities.
Financial support was granted for a second year in a row
Ignitis Renewables and its subsidiaries have been granting financial support for two years in a row. In 2022 they granted financial support to nine communities that are located near renewable energy projects managed by the companies. A total of EUR 86,100 was allocated to support the communities.
This year financial support was allocated to the projects of the communities located near renewable energy projects in Tauragė, Mažeikiai, Jurbarkas, Kretinga (Lithuania) as well as Pomerania and Silesia (Poland). In 2023 the total funds allocated to the projects that improve the wellbeing of communities amounted to EUR 350,000.