Lithuania’s energy innovation plan approved for an advanced energy sector

Date

2020 09 08

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In order to achieve the goals established in the National Energy Strategy, Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas has signed an order approving an action plan for strengthening the Lithuanian energy innovation ecosystem. This plan sets out more than 50 measures to develop and strengthen the energy innovation ecosystem in the areas of infrastructure, human resources, products and services, the regulatory environment, science and technology. The bulk of these measures are planned to already be implemented in 2020-2023.

The plan is based on an analysis that was part of the “Development of the Lithuanian Energy Sector Innovation Ecosystem” project implemented in 2019-2020 and proposals received during the public consultation. In preparing the plan, extensive and wide-ranging consultations were held with ministries, higher education and research institutions, energy undertakings and associations, and other social partners.

“In the National Energy Strategy, we set ourselves the goal of creating and developing energy innovations in order for them to become an important part of Lithuania’s exports and contribute to the country’s economic growth. This, the first integrated Lithuanian energy innovation plan, will create conditions for strengthening the entire energy innovation ecosystem and bringing together representatives of science and business so that progress and technological advancement in energy can take place as quickly as possible. The aim is to create a favourable environment for our manufacturers and researchers to further develop the innovative products created and to offer the market new, advanced solutions,” says Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas.

The action plan provides for the creation of a funding programme for the energy innovation sector to promote the development and commercialisation of innovative products and services. This kind of programme will help to effectively implement individual sectoral initiatives, such as the development of hydrogen technologies in Lithuania. The measures set out in the action plan should contribute to the development of new businesses, including the use of hydrogen in energy, industry and transport.

The measures of the plan related to improvement of the energy innovation legal environment have already begun to be implemented. This past April, after the Seimas approved the amendments to the Law on Energy prepared by the Ministry of Energy, a regulatory sandbox was legalised. The new legal environment will give energy innovators the opportunity to test their products or business solutions under real conditions. The Lithuanian energy sector will therefore become more modern and open to developers of high value-added products, and should also help step up research and development in the field of energy.

In addition, the aforementioned amendments to the Law on Energy will encourage innovations among regulated energy companies by defining sources of funding for innovation in these activities. This will encourage companies to invest more in innovation.

The plan also includes measures that will contribute to solving problems concerning the need for specialists in the energy sector (heat energy, electricity, RES and so on); these measures have already begun to be implemented.

The National Energy Independence Strategy (NEIS) approved in 2018 envisages innovation as one of the strategic directions of energy policy. The NEIS also established the objective of Lithuania going from being a country that imports energy technology to a country that develops and exports energy technology. It is expected that in the coming years, a market of new products and services will open up in the Lithuanian energy sector related to increasing energy efficiency by implementing building renovation programmes and improving the efficiency of manufacturing companies by promoting the use of renewable energy resources. These changes will open up huge potential for investment in the energy sector, and will encourage the development of human resource capacity and innovative technologies for low greenhouse gas emissions and ambient air pollutants, as well as the creation of new jobs. A well-functioning energy innovation ecosystem would contribute to improving the conditions for local producers and researchers to further develop and strengthen the innovative products created in the country. It would also create conditions and incentives for new products and services to emerge. In this case, part of the necessary investments could remain in Lithuania and contribute to the growth of the country’s entire economy.

In order to achieve continuous progress in innovation by ensuring the implementation of this plan, the state of the Lithuanian energy innovation ecosystem will be assessed annually.