Latvia is highly dependent on energy imports (66 percent). Forests cover 45 percent of the total land area of Latvia; as a matter of fact it is one of the woodiest European countries. The cuttings of its forests in 1995 amounted to 6.9 Mm3s. The Government has approved cuttings of 8.35Mm3s in the years to come. According to forest expert estimations the level of cuttings could be increased up to 10.5 Mm3s per year without damage to nature.
Fuel wood resources comprise wood from clear cut and pre-commercial thinning, as well as tops, branches and other residues. Wood fuels are widely used not only in individual thermal energy generators, but also in medium sized district heating systems34. In 1997, 79 percent of primary energy production was fuel wood (firewood, wood residues, and wood chips).
Several international projects are developed in Latvia for analysing forestry resources and the amount of energy in wood. It is reasonable to assume that from an average wood felling of 8.35 Mm3s that the amount of fuel wood obtained will be about 4.5 Mm3s. It is assumed that about 40 percent of potential wood energy are still left in the forests and at wood processing companies.
Because of the higher export price of firewood compared to local price, 18 percent of the fuel wood production is exported. The share of firewood is 22 percent of the total energy consumption. Wood is mainly used for heating purposes in households and for heat production in boiler houses. Wood logs are used in medium size hot water boilers that were fuelled by coal and then converted to burn wood. From wood residues are wood pellets and briquettes are produced. Due to present price level, pellets are mainly produced for export.
Wood is not used in electricity production.
A. INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS
A.1. - POLICIES, STRATEGIES AND PROJECTS
The Latvian National Energy Programme from 1997 includes the goals of efficiency improvements in the whole chain of the energy system from production to final consumption, utilisation of RE and support for the development of environmentally friendly energy resources as well as new efficient technologies. Realisation of these goals is essential in the implementation of EU environmental legislation in Latvia.
A.2. - THE ROLE OF TECHNICAL AGENCIES
· LATVIAN ENERGY AGENCY is an organisation working on the development and implementation of energy strategies and policies in Latvia. It also deals with the promotion of the use RE. It creates guidelines for restructuring energy companies and management systems and setting up energy price lists in the market economy. The Agency creates a profit for high technology equipment and materials for the energy sector and takes part in R&D activities.
· ENERGY CENTER RIGA is a non-profit making association created as part of the measures taken within the THERMIE programme. The Centre works with energy producers and consumer and is particularly active in the field of RE and energy conservation and efficiency.
Advantage for small scale CHP was accepted by Parliament in 1996. Double electricity tariff was stated. At present this regulation is not more in force and only companies that signed agreement till the end of May 1997 have opportunity to use their right for double the tariff. No carbon dioxide tax exists in Latvia for the moment.
34 "District heating and CHP generation from Biomass"- Tallin (Estonia), 21-23 March