Coal-powered energy plant gains support

  • 2009-04-02
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - Following years of debate over the issue of a coal power plant in the port city of Liepaja, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has said that the construction would help solve the ominous energy issue. 
"We will have problems with energy supplies in any case, and a new power plant will have to be constructed in Latvia. At present the coal and biomass project in Liepaja is being considered as the most realistic one. This, in my opinion, ought to be endorsed," the prime minister told reporters.

Dombrovskis explained that a plant powered by solid fuel holds many advantages when compared to natural gas fueled power plants.
"Coal can be shipped from various places. It does not increase dependence on one supplier," Dombrovskis said.

Biomass may also partially fuel the power plant. Research on biomass in Latvia is at an all time high despite minimal amounts of funding from the government. The use of biomass would increase the portion of renewable energy sources in Latvia.
Many environmentalists disagree with the plan, however, saying that the government should consider other sources of power.

"This gives the wrong signals to the smaller scale producers so that's something we at Green Movement don't like and something that should be changed" said Alda Ozola of the Green Movement in Latvia, citing pollution and other environmentally adverse effects as a reason for considering other alternatives. 
The prime minister said that Latvia's Latvenergo power company would be putting the coal powered power plant into action on a commercial basis.

"This will not be a government-funded project; Latvenergo will carry it out as a company and will earn back the investment. It has to be a profitable investment," Dombrovskis said.
In September 2008, the Ministry of Economy announced plans for the power plant, an idea that has been on the table since 2004.

With the closing of Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant this year, the scramble for energy is rising. Currently, the Latvian state-run Latvenergo power utility generates power at two thermal power plants in Riga and three hydroelectric power stations on the Daugava River.
Electricity is also imported from Estonia, Russia and Lithuania.
Latvia produces about 60 percent of its own power through three dams and wind turbines. Approximately 30 percent of electricity is purchased from abroad.