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Groundbreaking held for Lithuania’s largest renewable energy project

On February 12, a groundbreaking ceremony was held marking the official start of construction works for Lietuvos Energija's new biomass and waste-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Vilnius, Lithuania. On the plant site, a memorial time capsule containing a letter to future generations on the aspirations of today's society to create a cleaner environment in the capital and throughout Lithuania was embedded.

Burying a time capsule with a letter to future generations during the groundbreaking ceremony for Lietuvos Energija’s new biomass and waste-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Vilnius (photo courtesy Lietuvos Energija).

The estimated EUR 350 million CHP plant is currently the largest energy project in Lithuania and is being financed by the state-run energy utility Lietuvos Energija, the European Union (EU) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Consisting of three boiler units, one for waste and two for biomass, the approximately 88 MW electric and 227 MW thermal capacity plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2019. Upon completion of construction, the Vilnius CHP plant will be one of the most modern in Europe increasing Lithuania’s renewable power generation capacity by around 20 percent.

The emergence of a Vilnius waste incineration plant for the city is necessary in order to operate the entire waste disposal chain in the city. For the second year already, there is also a waste sorting plant in which combustion materials are selected, so the new power plant is necessary to ensure that waste sorting does not only become a proxy. The new power plant will effectively contribute to cheaper heat production and will ensure high ecological standards, said Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, during the ceremony.

According to Lietuvos Energija, the new Vilnius CHP plant will generate about half of the capital’s centralized supply of heat and electricity. Furthermore, by using municipal solid waste (MSW) and biomass fuels, the plant is anticipated to reduce costs for the city, reducing the annual fuel bill by EUR 13 million and waste management costs by EUR 10 million.

We believe that this project in the capital of our state will become a bridge to a new stage – a sustainable, green and modern city. Enriched with European Union support, favourable financing of the European Investment Bank, selected professional contractors and the support of the city’s residents, we are obliged to build a power plant in a timely manner, with high quality and in order to ensure the highest environmental standards, said Darius Maikštėnas, Chairman and CEO of Lietuvos Energija.

An artist’s rendering of the planned biomass and waste-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Vilnius (image courtesy Lietuvos Energija).

The plant will use residual municipal solid waste (MSW) that remains after re-use or recycling diverting it from landfill. It is designed to process up to 160 000 tonnes per annum of MSW sourced from Vilnius and Utena. In addition, it will use up to 450 000 tonnes per annum of biomass fuel.

About 750 jobs will be created during the construction of the new cogeneration plant, and about 100 permanent jobs will be built on the plant. Vilnius citizens are also in favour of the project. According to a survey conducted by Spinter tyrimai in December 2017, 72 percent of the respondents’ were positive to the plans to construct a modern biomass and waste-fired energy plant.

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