In April, 2020, our partner in Latvia – Riga Planning Region – has finished the elaboration of recommendations for the development of energy communities in Latvia to respond to barriers encountered in policy and practice as well as to contribute to reaching the national decarbonisation targets.
The level of civic participation in energy production in Latvia is still inadequate and thus the development of CE projects must face several challenges. One of the largest obstacles to the increase of energy self-consumption in Latvia is the lack of incentive instruments, and the other – regulations that do not encourage local initiatives. It is worth mentioning the fact that initial costs to develop CE projects are high, as well as the payback period of projects is relatively long, therefore, the development of such projects seems to be available to a small number of owners.
In addition, the current net metering system is not compatible with the energy community idea since energy communities could include broader organisational forms, for example, corporate bodies. The current net metering system offers favourable terms only to individual households.
Experience from our pilot projects in Mārupe has highlighted that technical knowledge on legal and accounting issues is required for decision-making and project management. As the experience of such projects in Latvia is limited, each CE project initiative must find an individual approach in order to find the best solutions for administrative and technical approaches.
Furthermore, the evolvement of distributed generation, efficiency measures, and sustainable heating systems require a changing landscape of governance and cooperation.
A series of activities have been identified that must be initiated in Latvia to encourage renewable energy communities. The goal of the recommendations is to establish administrative procedures and funds that enable new or support existing renewable energy projects:
- facilitate energy communities through regulations, for instance, by introducing community definitions and general provisions in Energy Law & Electricity Market Law,
- ensure participation of public / local authorities in community RE projects,
- adjust the existing net metering system to include community organisations or develop alternative models,
- diversify funding for community RE,
- adjust support schemes (equal conditions with commercial actors) & specific tax exemptions,
- encourage engagement, coordination and access to information,
- launch information campaigns authored by the government that demonstrate public support for energy citizens and community projects,
- plan for energy communities and climate-neutrality,
- advance sustainable energy and climate action plans for local and regional municipalities.
Many of these recommendations depend on a timely and progressive implementation of the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030. To comply with the national policy document, we consulted the national energy policy maker – the Ministry of Economics.
Please contact the project administrative coordinator at Riga Planning Region – Mr Ilgvars Francis (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on our activities in Latvia.