The Baltic Course reports a story originally released by the Latvian National News Agency LETA, announcing that the municipality of Vilnius City, Lithuania, has introduced a bold plan to cut district heating costs by 22%–which would result in the lowest heat price in the country–and also reduce dependence on imported natural gas. City leaders have decided that it is necessary to modernize Vilnius Power Plant 3 (Combined Heat and Power Plant – TEC-3) and to build an additional steam boiler fired by biomass.
According to Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas, the primary objective of this decision is to decrease heat prices as much as possible and to import as little gas as possible by switching to other energy sources, in this case to biofuel.
The working group on Vilnius Power Plant 3 modernization was formed in September 2013. It stated in the findings that the most effective solution would be to build a new 540 megawatt boiler (340 MW for heat, 180 MW for electricity). This would allow to reduce heat price to 18.4 Lithuanian cents per kilowatt hour and would enable the city to save LTL 150 million (EUR 43.4 million) per year.
On Wednesday March 5, the project is scheduled to be submitted to Vilnius City Council. If it gains approval, the investment plan shall be drawn up. The project is estimated to be worth more than LTL 700 million (EUR 203 million). The project is hoped to be supported and funded by at least 60 percent by the European Union. A loan for the remaining amount would likely be secured.
According to Zuokas, after the implementation of the project, only 30 percent of the fuel used by Vilnius would be gas. The mayor hopes that the construction will break ground in 2013, and last for approximately two years. According to Zuokas, an identical project should be implemented in Kaunas.
Vilnius Deputy Mayor Jonas Pinskus says that the ability to produce as much as 70 percent of heat from renewable energy resources means that it would be possible to use renewable energy from May to October.
According to Arturas Keserauskas, Head of Vilniaus Silumos Tinklai (Vilnius Heat Network), such a project has been successfully implemented in Poland. The reconstruction of Vilnius Power Plant 3 would also result in cheaper electricity, which would cost slightly more than 13 Lithuanian cents. However, at first the City Council has to approve the project and the EU has to provide support.