Lithuania has a well-developed district heating system. The share of DH in the overall heating sector remained constant over the last years: on average, around 57% throughout the country and around 76% in cities.
In 2017, 49 licensed heat supply companies with annual sales of more than 10 GWh were operating in the DH sector. These companies operate in all 60 cities and districts of Lithuania. The activity of these entities is regulated by the National Commission for Energy Control and Prices. The smaller heat supply undertakings are regulated by the municipalities. In 2017, there were 15 DH companies where the part of heat was purchased from Independent Heat Producers (IHP). Currently, the market share of IHP makes around 31% (2800 GWh) of total heat delivered to the DH networks.
In 2017, municipalities owned about 90% of DH companies, while 10% were leased to foreign and domestic investors. Private capital entered Lithuanian DH market in 2000. In March 2017, the 15-year contract for the lease of the largest DH company in Vilnius city expired and the management was transferred to the municipality.
Although in 2017 the average outdoor air temperature during the heating season was warmer than in 2015-2016, the volumes of district heating production and supply increased by 1-2 %. This indicates the growth of heat consumers, which annually makes around 0.3 %, while the number of disconnected users was only 0.05%.
In 2017, almost 70% of heat was produced from RES (mainly biomass) and municipal waste in the Lithuanian DH sector. The share of heat from natural gas was less than 30% in the fuel balance. Up until 2014 natural gas was the main fuel in the DH heat generation structure. Moving to cheap, mostly local biomass not only reduced heat prices but also brought significant benefits to the country’s economy, increases energy security, and helps in solving climate change problems.
The estimated share of renewable energy sources in 2020 should increase to 80% provided that large-scale biomass and municipal waste CHP projects will be implemented in Vilnius and Kaunas cities. The average price of local biomass used for DH is 3 times less than the price of natural gas.
One of the goals set in the National Energy Independence Strategy (2018) is to develop high-efficiency CHP plants that create possibilities for local electricity generation. It is planned that the construction of two modern biomass and waste-to-energy CHP plants in Vilnius (90 MWe and 230 MWth) and Kaunas (24 MWe and 70 MWth) will increase Lithuania’s renewable power generation capacity by around 20%. The plants will start to operate at the beginning of 2020. These CHP plants expected to satisfy around 40% of Vilnius and Kaunas district heat needs. Currently, they are the largest energy project in Lithuania implemented over the past 20 years.
In addition, two other Lithuanian cities are also featured in this initiative, Siauliai and Vilnius. For more information on the impact of district energy at a local level, explore our #DHCities🏙️ map, featuring DHC decarbonisation success stories from over 35 European cities: euroheat.org/map