RIGA - In order to reduce Latvia's dependence on Russian gas, the state must seriously consider switching to nuclear energy in the future, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said at the Saeima sitting on Thursday.
At present, 40 percent of the total energy consumption in Latvia comes from renewable resources, while 36 percent of all electricity produced is from gas, and part of it is used for heating.
Karins pointed out that in the case of the transition to nuclear energy, it is necessary to think about how to deal with the issue of nuclear waste, but in order to have no dependence on oil or gas in the future, it would be necessary to develop domestic production, develop renewable wind farms and possibly nuclear energy.
Great Britain, which operates nuclear submarines with power stations inside, is also currently showing interest in nuclear energy.
At the same time, Karins emphasized that the number of municipalities that use gas for central heating, but who are switching to wood chips instead for heating, is on the rise, thus this transition for all municipalities should be encouraged, as those municipalities that use wood chips for district heating have constantly lower prices than those that use natural gas. In addition, wood chips are a domestic by-product of forest products that are not imported from Russia or other countries.
He informed that the government has already approved plans for Latvenergo to develop wind farms, which together with Latvian State Forests are planned to be built in forest massifs further away from populated areas, but it would take seven to ten years for this solution to be implemented. According to Karins, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development is committed to reducing the environmental impact in its planning to construct these wind farms.
The Prime Minister believes that while Russia is being sanctioned, Latvia needs to develop additional options in regards to gas, as 90 percent of its gas comes from Russia. At present, Latvia has a common gas system with Lithuania, Estonia and Finland - 10 billion cubic meters per year, half of which is consumed by Finnish industry and the other by the Baltic States. According to him, in order to reduce dependence on Russian gas, it is necessary to look at the construction of another liquefied gas terminal in the Baltic region.
"If we want to continue with gas in the medium term, we need a second liquefied natural gas terminal in the Baltic region, and there are various projects, both in Latvia and Estonia, where it could be built. In the gas supply system, the center and the most valuable infrastructure object is the Incukalns underground gas storage facility, which is owned and controlled by the state," Karins pointed out.