The war in Ukraine shows that the project for the production of hydrogen from renewable energy sources and biomethane in Lentvaris municipality, Trakai district, has a bright future and is important for the country’s energy independence, says Vidas Korsakas, the organiser of the idea. However, the changed business environment, which shows bright prospects, is also forcing the pace to slow down.
According to Vidas Korsakas, the CEO of BIO2LT UAB implementing the project, the paperwork still hasn’t been processed in 9 months, the local community has also demonstrated certain suspicions, while the war-driven green energy boom is prolonging the delivery of equipment. Thus the pilot production planned for the end of this year will be postponed to next year.
Vidas Korsakas says that having started preparing documentation in July last year, the company is still not able to put the finishing touches to the project..
“The process is not very simple. In some places, the parameters of the equipment to be operated have to be quite precise, but we still do not know what equipment will actually be used,” says V. Korsakas, noting that a procurement procedure is still to be published, and equipment offered by manufacturers may differ.
He also says that the preparations have been delayed because of active involvement of local communities. Vidas Korsakas, who is also the CEO of UAB SG Dujos Auto noted that residents raised many relevant questions worthy of discussion, at the same time expressing some unreasonable doubts and reluctance to have such a plant built in Sausiai.
“They say no, we don’t want to have such a facility built here, but when asked why, people cannot voice any reasons, despite the fact that the site is next to the Vilnius-Kaunas highway, there is a railway nearby, and there will be a European rail passing by. It doesn’t look like a recreational or peaceful area, but people have the idea that the place is to be protected and that nothing should be built here”, he notes.
According to Vidas Korsakas, the concerns of local residents have prolonged the process of assessing the public health impact. However, all questions have now been answered and the final conclusion is still to be made.
“(The community’s reaction – VŽ) has prompted us to look at certain issues with greater attention. But we are all for it. Our aim is to make sure that all these projects are implemented with maximum precision and are well-thought-out from the very beginning,” he said.
The interviewee told that the works of the plant of hydrogen to be derived from renewable energy sources and biomethane have also been delayed for other reasons.
The war that Russia started in Ukraine has pointed to the necessity to develop renewable energy projects to the whole of Europe. According to Vidas Korsakas, this has resulted in equipment orders placed with prospective partners and a delay in delivery to Lithuania.
“There is a growing perception in many European countries that this is the way to go. This is the path towards energy independence. All in all, the demand for the products of manufacturers of such equipment has increased and unfortunately lead times are getting longer,” he says.
“We do not plan to start this year, even in the most optimistic scenario,” V. Korsakas added.
However, he believes that challenges in the energy sector show the importance of such projects, and more of them would be developed if there was an opportunity for their development, not only in Lithuania.
“We would like to increase volumes and capacity, but we are looking for a balance between a logical initial investment and the result,” he notes.
Last year, Korsakas told VŽ that the investment in the project was estimated at over EUR 10 million. However, due to tight supply chains, higher raw material and energy prices, and increased demand, it is now clear that this amount could be significantly higher.
“I would not like to speculate. We would very much like to hope for this amount not to increase by more than a dozen per cent,” V. Korsakas said.
However, he also points out that, even if the investment increased, to the project should not be halted – it must be implemented now.
“If the project was delayed, it would take even longer, and a failure to implement the project may trigger anxiety. In today’s environment, we know and understand the situation, but if we were to stop and wait a couple of years and then try again, the implementation of the project would be in question,” Vidas Korsakas said.
The interviewee noted that the return on investment could be up to 10 years.
Supply to the gas distribution pipeline
According to the project, the plan is to build a biogas plant with a maximum capacity of 500 cubic metres per hour in the Lentvaris municipality. In the first year, about 1 million cubic metres of biomethane will be produced, reaching a production capacity of over 2 million cubic metres later on.
The bioreactors will produce biogas from biodegradable waste such as municipal waste, fruit, vegetable or alcohol production waste, straw, animal manure, sewage sludge, etc.
The produced gas will be fed into the gas distribution pipeline.
The plant will consist of two hydrogen production containers, producing gas by way of electrolysis, when water molecules are split into oxygen and hydrogen gas by passing an electric current through water in a P2G (power-to-gas) unit.
A solar power plant is planned for the site. The electricity generated by solar panels will be used to produce hydrogen.
BIO2LT was founded by UAB Horeca sprendimai (shareholders: Žilvinas Ilevičius, Vytautas Keršys, Donatas Karanauskas) and UAB Infrestor (shareholders: Saulius Bilys, Marius Čižas, Vidas Korsakas and Virginijus Korsakas).
The number of alternative energy plants has been growing
More biogas projects have been planned in Lithuania.
In the Pasvalys district, in Vaškai, AB Renera has planned a biogas plant, UAB Vaškai Biomethane, which is expected to start operation at the end of next year.
According to the project, the production of biofuels will be based on animal manure from the surrounding farms. The biogas produced and purified to the required parameters will be fed into the main gas pipeline. This will involve the construction of a gas pipeline of about 6.7 km from the biogas preparation and biomethane production unit to the gas distribution pipeline.
Last year, UAB Idar, an affiliate of Renera, announced the production of biogas from animal and poultry manure and plant-based biodegradable products in Rumšiškės, Kaišiadorys district. The biogas produced in this plant is planned to be upgraded to the natural gas level. Commissioning is also planned for 2023.
The biomethane gas plant Engerta in the Panevėžys district is also expected to be launched that year. The project was initiated by Dvire, a start-up for environmentally friendly transport fuels. The BIO2LT team Horeca Solutions, SG Dujos and the agricultural company Šilagalis have also contributed to the project. The plan is to produce 4.38 million cubic metres of biomethane per year.
Ramūnas Karbauskis, the owner of Agrokoncernas Group, also has plans to produce biogas. He plans to build four large farms in the next few years, with biogas plants nearby.
“These farms have enough manure to produce biomethane efficiently. We protect the nature from CO2 producing biogas, which is very scarce in Lithuania,” he told VŽ earlier, adding that the gas could be used to fuel cars or could be fed into the grid.
Karbauskis estimated that four biomethane gas factories would cost around EUR 28 million.
“According to Amber Grid, more than 10 companies in Lithuania have expressed their interest in supplying gas to the gas distribution pipeline. Laura Šebekienė, the company’s communications manager, said that preliminary connection conditions have been issued to 12 market participants and two more sets are being prepared.
“We have also concluded 2 contracts for connection to the gas transmission network”, she said to VŽ.