Latvia considers new coal-fueled power plant

  • 2004-11-10
  • Baltic News Service
RIGA - Latvia is looking into the possibility of building a new coal-fueled power plant in the western part of the country.

The country's electricity consumption levels are expected to rise in the future, while Baltic electricity output will continue to fall in coming years.

Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, one of the largest energy sources in the Baltics, will be fully decommissioned by 2009.

The Latvian Economy Ministry reported to the government that the state-owned power company and Germany's E.ON Energy Projects are assessing how beneficial the proposed coal-fueled plant would be.

The research being carried out by the two companies will mainly focus on the possible price of producing electricity at such a plant compared to alternative sources. The research results are expected to be ready by December this year.

The ministry reported that it believes using coal will significantly reduce Latvia's energy dependency on natural gas as the country's main source of fuel, all of which come from Russia.

Nevertheless, the main drawbacks for a coal-fueled plant include high construction costs and significant investment needed for meeting environmental requirements.

Currently Latvia manages to produce enough energy for its own needs only for a period of four to six weeks each spring, when meltwaters fill the Daugava River and the turbines at the three Daugava hydroelectric-power plants are used at full capacity. On average, the three dams produce around 60 percent of the power needed by Latvia.

In recent years around 30 percent of the electricity used by Latvia has been bought for cheap prices from neighboring countries - mainly Lithuania and Russia - although many of the plants producing this energy are to be decommissioned in the near future.