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Experts: energy storage is critical

Article is published in The Baltic Times.

For Latvia to achieve energy independence as quickly and efficiently as possible, all stakeholders need to play a role in increasing the resilience of the energy system. Different technology solutions for energy storage are critical. This was the conclusion of the conference "Energy Storage for Energy Independence and Security of Supply" on 7 December.

Opening the conference, Armands Gutmanis, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Climate Neutrality Cluster, stressed that the European Union aims to significantly increase the total capacity of renewable energy production by 2030. 

"This will largely be achieved through the development of solar and wind power, but the hydrogen sector can also become a visible player. On the other hand, renewables are intermittent and climate-dependent, so flexible solutions are needed for the success of the energy system," said Armands Gutmanis.   

Janis Irbe, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Climate and Energy, stressed that the Ministry is currently working on a number of important pieces of legislation that will contribute to reducing emissions, including the National Energy and Climate Plan, the Transport Energy Law, and the Climate Law. In response to the concerns of business representatives, Janis Irbe detailed the regulatory framework for the development of wind and solar farms.  He stressed that Europe is now at a turning point in its sustainable transition and the choices made today will determine its ability to achieve its decarbonization goals and energy independence. 

Gatis Bazbauers, Vice-Rector and Professor at Riga Technical University, highlighted at the conference that energy storage is currently undergoing a comprehensive shift from a "consumption-led" to a "supply-led" system, which requires more flexibility also on the consumption side.

G. Bazbauers presented a recent study on Latvia's future potential to use synthetic fuels derived from "green hydrogen" and CO2 to reduce transport emissions, including in heavy-duty and long-distance transport.

Gatis Junghans, Member of the Board of Augstsprieguma tikls, acknowledged that the rapid development of climate-dependent generation poses various challenges that require solutions. At the same time, it is also a time of opportunity for new balancing and energy storage technologies, as well as allowing businesses to develop new service offerings. 

"Hydrogen is an indispensable element for storing and transporting renewable energy in the near future. It does not compete with traditional electricity transmission and storage in batteries. On the contrary, only by combining them can an independent and green energy system be created in Latvia for all end-uses. Using hydrogen and its derivatives, we can also build immediate renewable energy exports, unconstrained by the limited cross-border capacity of the electricity transmission system," said Kaspars Avots, Chief Operating Officer of Baltic Hydrogen Group. 

The issue of responsible recycling planning of process equipment, the optimal balance between domestic energy storage and energy exports is important and noteworthy. 

"The electrification of mobility is today's reality. And it will only increase, also in Latvia. This brings with it many new challenges and opportunities. For example, how to secure the raw materials needed for electric car batteries sustainably and without becoming totally dependent on individual raw material suppliers? What to do with batteries at the end of their life cycle? Could Latvia find a place in the electro-mobility industry to add value?" Kaspars Kalviskis, Head of Robert Bosch in the Baltics, highlighted the issues at stake. The development of efficient energy storage solutions could be facilitated if the right regulations and incentives for investment are in place. The participants also discussed with representatives of the Ministry of Climate and Energy the need for additional subsidies and favorable regulations that can be economically justified, as well as how the National Energy Climate Plan will reflect this issue. 

"As there is currently no clear leader in energy storage technologies, there is a need to ensure diversity and availability of different forms of energy storage to respond appropriately to short and long term needs. Thus, energy storage will be another player in the energy sector, but its successful integration in different sectors will require first of all cooperation between different sectors and not necessarily direct subsidies," summarized Gunārs Valdmanis, representative of the Ministry of Climate and Energy.   

Speakers at the conference included Professor Gatis Bazbauers, Vice Rector of Riga Technical University, Gatis Junghans, Member of the Board of Augstsprieguma tikls, Kaspars Kalviskis, Head of Robert Bosch in the Baltic States, Kaspars Avots, Chief Operating Officer of Baltic Hydrogen Group, Gunārs Valdmanis, Director of the Energy Market Department of the Ministry of Climate and Energy, and Janis Irbe, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Climate and Energy. The conference was chaired by Armands Gutmanis, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Climate Neutrality Cluster. 

The conference was organized by the Latvian Climate Neutrality Cluster and the Latvian Renewable Energy Federation. The conference was powered by Robert Bosch and Baltic Hydrogen Group.



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