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Power station gets new lease of life

  • 2001-08-30
  • Jorgen Johansson
KEGUMS - Built back in the late 1930s, the hydroelectric plant in Kegums, a town 40 kilometers east of Riga, has been operational for more than 60 years. Ruined in World War II, its history has been one of constant modernization and upgrading. When operations commenced, it was one of the most modern plants of its kind.

On Aug. 22 this year the Kegums power plant was re-opened after yet more renovation, this time lasting three years. Companies from both Sweden and France were involved in the massive process which cost more than 13 million lats ($20.8 million). Most of the funding came in the form of a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Christer Parkegren, general manager of Alstom, a Swedish company supplying hydropower generators, said work at the plant had gone smoothly and the station's total capacity actually exceeded initial calculations. "We haven't only upgraded the equipment, we have also introduced a new way of using it, making it more efficient than before," Parkegren told The Baltic Times.

Several Latvian top officials participated at the re-opening. Prime Minister Andris Berzins spoke of the great effort put into renovating the power plant, utility Latvenergo President Karlis Mikelsons gave a run down of the complete history of the power plant and Economy Minister Aigars Kalvitis said the power plant would make a great contribution to Latvia's energy needs.

Asked how the improvements at the Kegums hydroelectric station would help boost the Latvian economy, Kalvitis told The Baltic Times: "Hydroelectric stations are very important because they produce the cheapest form of energy compared to other kinds of power stations."

Experts believe the new improvements at the power station will ensure another 40 years of production at Kegums. Tests show that efficiency has risen from 82 percent to 91.4 percent since the upgrading and annual output has climbed to 25 million kilowatts.

Aggregate investments in the Daugava River hydropower plant renovation project have exceeded $57 million. But Kegums is not the only power plant to have been renovated. The Plavina power plant, farther up river, has also seen a few improvements to its machinery, and dams at both plants have been reinforced.

Hydropower plants on the Dau-gava are the only power producers in Latvia but their combined output is still not sufficient to cover the country's needs. Currently, most of the Latvia's power imports are from Russia, Lithuania and Estonia.