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Wood biomass provided major renewable energy boost in Latvia, figures show

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Renewable energy consumption in Latvia has increased by more than 44% over the last decade.

Data compiled by the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) show that in 2019, gross consumption of renewable energy sources (RES) in Latvia amounted to 75.5 petajoules (PJ) (approximately 20,972 gigawatt-hours [GWh]). Over the last five years, consumption of RES rose by 17.6%.

According to the CSB, ‘fuelwood’ (firewood, wood waste, wood chips, wood briquettes, pelletised wood) and hydro resources in Latvia are used the most extensively. By boosting the consumption of local resources, energy dependency from imported energy resources fell from 63.9% in 2005 to 44.3% in 2018.

Biogas consumption in Latvia

The figures show in 2019 the share of fuelwood in the gross consumption of RES comprised 88.5%, compared to 88% in 2018. The consumption of biogas, including landfill gas, sewage sludge gas, and other biogas, comprised 3.4 PJ or approximately 944 GWh in 2019, around 7.3% less than in 2018. Over the last five years, consumption of biogas in Latvia has decreased by 8.1%.

Fuelwood consumption in Latvia

Over the last five years, the CSB reported gross consumption of fuelwood increased by 9.3 PJ (2,583 GWh approx), reaching 61.9 PJ (17,194 GWh approx) in 2019, although it reduced by 0.5% in 2019. Last year, compared to 2018, the volume of wood chips produced went up by 5.8%.

Additionally, Latvia reported that exports of fuelwood increased. In 2019, 39.1 PJ (approximately 10,861 GWh) of pelletised wood was exported, an increase of 26.4% compared to 2018. Over the last five years, exports of pelletised wood increased by 40%, which was promoted by the availability of raw materials and global trends to increase the consumption of renewable energy, according to the CSB.

The figures show that during the last five years, the share of RES consumed in the production of electricity and heat in transformation sector grew by 7.4%, reaching 38.6% of the gross consumption in this sector in 2019.

The CSB says this rise could be explained by the transition from natural gas to wood chips to generate electricity and heat in combined heat and power (CHP) plants. The consumption of fuelwood in the generation of heat and electricity rose by 5.4% in 2019. Wood chips take the largest share of fuel used in the transformation sector, according to the CSB, taking a 92.2% share of the total consumption of fuelwood in 2019.

2019 volume of electricity produced from RES

In 2019, 6,438 GWh of electricity was produced in Latvia, of which 3,190 GWh were produced from RES, and, compared to 2018, the volume dropped by 8.8%.

The organisation said in 2019, 4,174 GWh of electricity was generated in CHP facilities, of which 22.2% was produced from biogas and biomass. Over the last five years, the volume of electricity produced in biomass plants and CHP facilities increase by 52.1%. However, the volume produced in biogas CHP plants decreased by 9.9%.