In Latvia heating is provided through district heating systems, local heat supply and individual heat supply. Heat energy is produced in boiler houses and co-generation stations (CHP plants). Over the past 10 years, the distribution of heat produced in boiler houses and co-generation stations has changed significantly. According to figures from the Ministry of Economics of Latvia, the share of thermal energy produced in co-generation stations in 2015 reached 74.5%.
In 2015, heat energy was generated by 618 boiler houses with an installed heat output of 2524 MW and 183 CHP plants with an installed electric capacity of 1275 MW. Most of the heat generated in district heating systems is produced in Riga, the capital. In 2015, 3598 GWh of thermal energy or 50.9% of the total produced thermal energy were produced there and 991 GWh (14%) in the region surrounding Riga (Pieriga). Moreover, 698 GWh were produced in the Latgale region (9.9%), 684 GWh in Kurzeme region (9,7%), 612 GWh in Zemgale region (8.6%) and 489 GWh in Vidzeme region (6.9%).
The central heating supply customer structure has not changed in recent years, with central heating accounting for 65-70%, hot water supply for 30-35%. The main consumers of heat energy are households. In 2015, 5862 GWh of thermal energy were consumed. The total final consumption of district heating energy for households was 3917 GWh, for the commercial and public sectors 1453 GWh, for industry and construction 403 GWh and for agriculture 89 GWh.
Fuel-wood and natural gas are fuels which are mainly used in the production of heat energy from boiler houses. It is essential that the share of local and renewable energy (fuel-wood) increases each year, reducing the proportion of natural gas. In 2012, 37.8% of heat energy was produced from fuel wood, but 58.6% from natural gas in boiler houses, but in 2015 the share of natural gas has decreased by 20.6%, while the share of fuel wood has increased by 23%.
Natural gas is used as the main fuel for electricity and heat production in CHP plants. In 2015, 78% of electricity and 68% of thermal energy were produced in CHP plants using natural gas. The number of biomass heat sources has increased 2.5 times, and the installed capacity has tripled in 2014 compared to 2007. The total installed chip boiler power tripled to 819 MW.
According to the data of the Central Statistical Bureau, the consumption of fuel chips in Latvia in the last eight years (from 2008 to 2016) has increased 3 times, the consumption of wood residues has increased 1.5 times, while wood consumption has decreased 1.5 times. In 2017 there were 615 boiler houses in Latvia, of which 333 were using biomass as fuel. In 2017, 50 co-generation stations were operating in Latvia, in which biomass (chips and wood) was used. In total there are 204 co-generation stations.
KeepWarm is an EU-funded project whose objective is to accelerate cost-effective investments in the modernisation of District Heating Systems (DHS). It brings together eleven project partners from a variety of relevant sectors (energy agencies, national DHS associations, agricultural chambers, research institutes, consultancies on energy efficiency and NGOs) across Central and Eastern Europe.
The aim of the initiative, launched in April 2018, is to modernise DHS around the whole region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving system operations and promoting a switch to less-polluting sources, like renewables. The project partners strive to ensure that best practices for environmental-friendlier heating and cooling will be taken up across Europe, replicating KeepWarm’s approach in other countries and regions, even beyond the end of the project in September 2020.
In Latvia, the project is supported by Biomass LATbio, DHS Association LSUA and involves the heat-supply companies of the city of Jekabpils and the counties of Auce and Ozolnieki.
Country project partner
The Zemgale Regional Energy Agency (ZREA) is an NGO facilitating the improvement of energy efficiency in the public and private sector and providing information on the issue for residents. It was initiated by several municipalities, a district heating and a housing maintenance company, as well as the regional innovation and NGO support centre. ZREA has the responsibility for promoting the project on social media and the implementation of DHS pilot projects in Latvia.