EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. 125 Years: from Oginski’s Light Bulb to Lasers

 

At EXPO 2017, which will take place in Astana – the capital of Kazakhstan – from 10 June to 10 September, and explore the topic of Future Energy, Lithuania will invite the visitors to get to know the country’s energy strategy and innovations at the pavilion of Rays of the Future Energy from Lithuania.

We discussed the rays of energy that Lithuania started sharing with the world, as well as the current and future energy strategy with Dalius MISIŪNAS, President of the National Energy Association of Lithuania (NLEA).

The celebration of the Lithuanian Energy Day on 18 April featured the lighting of the Tree of Energy with 125 light bulbs. This was a symbolic reference to the 125th anniversary of lighting the first light bulb in Lithuania, which took place on 17 April 1892 at the church of Rietavas, during the celebration of Easter. This happened only thirteen years after the invention of the first light bulb in the world. That year the noble Oginski family had the first power plant in Lithuania built in their manor in Rietavas. It was only ten years behind the construction of the first power plant in the world, built in New York in 1882. While in 1895 Rietavas was proud of the first water tower in Lithuania, using wind energy. Thus the Dukes Oginski began the era of energy and progress in Lithuania. It took 125 years to come to lasers, starting not far behind the rest of the world and now rapidly marching in the front ranks.

Mr Misiūnas, what thoughts do these historical facts bring to you as a young leader and a person of modern technology? Is the foundation of Lithuanian energy strong enough for our future energy complex?

The first light bulb in Rietavas marked a new era in the history of Lithuanian energy industry. For many witnesses it was a true miracle. However, today it’s a part of our daily lives. On the other hand, the energy industry keeps moving forward. After more than a century this field is now entering a new era – the fourth industrial revolution and its technology is making huge changes, transforming the energy industry in unimagined ways.

In terms of energy, 125 years ago Lithuania was going step in step with the rest of the world. What is our position in the global context today?

Lithuania is changing, implementing various changes and applying the best global practice and modern technology. The things that we achieved in the recent decade are truly significant – the energy sector has been restructured according to the EU requirements, we’ve also created a common electricity market among the Baltic States. We have all the conditions for a diversified natural gas supply – the liquefied gas terminal and all the necessary infrastructure projects. There are two 1 GW submarine power cables from Estonia to Finland and also two new links between Lithuania and Sweden, as well as Lithuania and Poland, connecting the electrical power systems between the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Central Europe. We have been also systematically modernising central heating supply systems and creating conditions for competition.

The means of reducing pollution and climate change are becoming increasingly important too. There was a significant advance in using renewable energy resources: in 2015 their share in the general energy balance of Lithuania has been gradually increasing and reached 25.86 %, in electricity sector – 15.55 %, heating and cooling sector – 46.17 % and 4. 56 % in transport.

Modern planning and management methods, as well as providing highly-qualified professionals of the field with diverse and objective information on Lithuania’s energy sector in the context of European and global markets, can help ensure flexibility, rationality, efficiency and sustainability of the energy sector, its development and functioning.

Tell us more about the NLEA structure, strategy and activities.

NLEA was founded on 5 February 2016 by uniting the National Lithuanian Electricity Association and the Lithuanian Gas Association, previously operating in their respective fields.

The purpose of NLEA is to develop a common position of the energy sector, representing our members’ interests at state institutions, as well as public and international organisations. NLEA also wants to ensure the improvement of electricity and gas supply for Lithuanian consumers, as well as promoting economic and technological progress in the field of energy.

Our association unites nine production, transmission, distribution and supply companies: UAB Lietuvos energija, UAB EPSO-G, AB Litgrid, AB Energijos skirstymo operatorius, AB Lietuvos energijos gamyba, UAB Lietuvos dujų tiekimas, AB Amber Grid, UAB Technologijų ir inovacijų centras, UAB Energijos tiekimas. NLEA also has four associated members: Kaunas University of Technology, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuanian Energy Institute and the association Lietuvos dujotekio statyba (Lithuanian Pipeline Construction).

What are Lithuania’s priorities in the field of energy? What types of energy are regarded as energy of the future?

The energy industry is now entering a new era – the fourth industrial revolution and its technology is making huge changes, transforming this field in unimagined ways.

First of all, this refers to the development of renewable energy resources. Not so long ago wind or solar power plants were rare and exotic – their development was hindered by expensive technology and low efficiency. However, in recent years technological progress has made the technological costs of using renewable resources significantly cheaper (reducing the costs of using wind energy by 30 %, solar – more than 70 %), at the same time increasing efficiency. Today electricity produced using renewable energy sources can compete with electricity produced using fossil fuels.

A large share of renewable energy resources will be dedicated for individual power generation. The balance of power in the field of energy is gradually shifting from centralised model of large power plants and networks into the hands of households, communities and businesses that use energy.

Modern technology gives them control of the entire energy supply chain – the choice of when they want to produce, consume or sell electricity will become a regular part of everyday life. All that inevitably changes the client needs and expectations from energy-producing companies. Clients used to pay for the energy that they have already consumed. However, with rapidly growing individual energy production, they will need to pay energy companies only for the access to the infrastructure. In the future electrons will be free or simply included into the service package together with other utilities.

I believe that the energy infrastructure of the future will be completely digitalised. Thanks to large-scale data analysis, power networks will be able to maintain a reliable supply even at high fluctuations of demand and supply, providing real-time information on prices, independently locating malfunction or using preventive measures.

What is the opinion of Lithuanian scientists, experts and innovation specialists on the development of Lithuanian future energy?

According to the Lithuanian National Energy Strategy, prepared by Lithuanian scientists, experts and institutions, Lithuanian future energy is an integral part of the modern economy, supplying energy to all consumers in the country in a reliable and safe way for economically justified and reasonable prices, flexibly adapting to changing internal and external conditions, rationally and efficiently using the opportunities of the EU and other markets, local and renewable energy resources, individual competitive energy production sources and infrastructure, as well as coordinating the interests and opportunities of the state and private capital. Flexible, rational and sustainable energy is based on consistent energy sectors, which use modern technologies, focus on finding better and more efficient ways to meet the consumer needs, create appropriate conditions for further development of the society and rapid economic growth, as well as use as much of diversified primary energy sources as possible.

Considering the external and internal situation, seeking for the general strategic objectives and Lithuania’s energy security, all energy sectors focus on the following aspects:

Flexibility and rationality. Being a small country and lacking local energy and financial resources, Lithuania can achieve the best energy results only by leading the energy sector towards greater flexibility, efficiency and rationality. This is the only way to ensure fast and flexible adaptation to the changing internal and external circumstances and supply Lithuanian consumers with energy at the most acceptable conditions. A national strategic energy planning system, representing state, business and consumer interests, as well as operating on objective scientific basis would efficiently contribute to increasing the flexibility and rationality of the country’s energy sector.

Diversification and liberalisation. Maintaining the variety of primary energy sources by making sure that the annual Lithuanian fuel balance is predominated by at least equally-important sources of primary energy, preventing a share of one supplier from becoming dangerously large. Rational diversification of the fuel or energy, as well as suppliers or used technology is necessary for all individual systems of the energy sector, while the conditions for the new market entrants or withdrawal must be transparent and non-discriminatory.

Integration. Continuing the integration of Lithuanian energy systems (especially electricity and gas supply) into the EU systems, at the same time maintaining the current relations with other countries, contributing to the development of the common EU energy market and energy union, making the best use of the advantages offered by this integration and markets in order to ensure a safe fuel and energy supply for Lithuanian consumers at competitive prices.

Efficiency of energy consumption. Focusing on increasing the efficiency of energy consumption in all chains of energy supply, from the supply of primary energy sources to their efficient consumption, as well as the development and implementation of innovations, increasing energy efficiency.

Using local and renewable resources. As long as it’s economically-effective, priority should be given to sustainable and rational use of local and renewable, as well as waste-to-energy resources.

Sustainable development. The development of the energy sector should ensure sustainability on economic, environmental and social levels. It is especially important to ensure and develop public participation in making energy-related decisions and achieve maximum transparency in all decisions.

How are the Lithuanian energy perspectives presented at the world EXPO 2017?

The first light bulb was lit in Lithuania only thirteen years after it was invented. This event marked the beginning of a new stage in the history of the Lithuanian energy industry. Today we stand at the stage of new essential changes in the energy sector. Just like then, Lithuania could once again become one of the leaders of these changes. This opportunity is very real, because the energy of the future will mostly depend on innovations and talents, rather than resources and capital.

Thank you for the interview.

Interviewed by Zita Tallat-Kelpšaitė

 

 

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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

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