The Elektrėnai Complex (the EC) – energy generation capacities of Ignitis Gamyba that produce electricity and heat energy, and provides ancillary services. The EC (including a standby power plant, a combined cycle unit, also biofuel and steam boilers) is situated 2 km northeast of Elektrenai town. After the shutdown of the Ignalina’ Nuclear Power Plant in 2010, the EC became the largest source of electricity generation in Lithuania.
The EC generated 0,857 TWh of electricity in 2014.
The standby power plant (former Lietuvos elektrinė) was built between the summer of 1960 and September 1972. Currently, it is the largest energy generating plant in Lithuania, with a capacity of 1800 MW. The power plant used to operate at full operational capacity thus meeting total state electricity demand, and producing up to 9 billion kWh of electricity.
The operational mode changed after Lithuania regained its independence. Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant appeared to be the major supplier of cheap electric energy. Therefore, the power plant was used as a reserve unit for the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in case of a sudden shutdown, and to cover electricity demands during total blackouts.
With changes in the economic situation, there was a demand for alternative fuel sources. Due to the increase in oil prices, the combustion of heavy fuel oil, previously widely used, had to be limited. The decision to use MSAR (oil emulsion, Multiphase Superfine Atomized Residue) was made after performing industrial tests and installing appropriate equipment that fires emulsion (an electrostatic filter in the second unit has been used since 1995). In order to keep equipment in good condition, repair and maintenance works are carried out on a regular basis, together with the installation of modern innovations that increase reliability and economic use of the equipment. Reconstruction of the 330 kV the power plant distribution station was finished in 1997 and further modernization to enhance environmental safety of the plant was also carried out. In addition, smoke cleaning filters were installed in the seventh and eighth units, and low oxide output burners were mounted in all units with the exception of the third and fourth units.
After the shutdown of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in December 2010, Ignitis Gamyba set some new objectives. One of the most significant is to remain the primary generating source of electric energy in Lithuania while at the same time fulfilling electricity demands. In order to achieve these objectives, a new 445 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) unit was built. The unit was officially opened on October 2012. The unit will produce sufficient electricity to cover 20-25% of Lithuanian domestic demand. Moreover, the amount of natural gas used to produce the same amount of energy will be reduced by up to 30%. The EC will continue its efficient operation in order to ensure energy security, reliability, and energy reserves of the state.
The overall efficiency of the CCGT unit exceeds 58%. It is able to generate enough electricity to cover 20-25% of Lithuania’s total demand. No one doubts its efficiency because the unit yields natural gas savings of 30% generating the same amount of electricity as the units based on ordinary technology. Lithuania will not be alone in experiencing benefits of Ignitis Gamyba CCGT unit project. The new unit will supply electricity to other Baltic States as well.
The unit’s construction cost amounted to EUR 376 million. The project was financed from the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund. Funds were also provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commercial banks and Ignitis Gamyba itself. An agreement with Spain’s concern Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construccion, S.A.U. on the unit’s construction was signed at the end of April 2009, and it took over 3 years to build the unit.
Combined-cycle technology is widely used in the European energy sector. The EU’s strict emission standards helped to achieve additional benefit in increasing the efficiency of fuel consumption in the field of electricity production. Much of outdated ineffective and redundant equipment was replaced with fuel-efficient combined-cycle technology which can achieve an efficiency of up to 50–60%. Meanwhile, using conventional technology only 25-40% of fuel is converted into electric energy. CCGT is one of the most efficient technologies at the moment, compared to the old-fashioned thermal fossil fuel units. Due to high thermal efficiency, CCGT units do not use additional fuel and achieve higher than usual capacity. So, the amount of emissions produced for every kilowatt hour of electricity is reduced and the unit’s productivity is significantly increased.
The CCGT unit in Elektrėnai was a second project implemented in the Baltic region, which used a 9FB gas turbine supplied by the world-famous company General Electric. This turbine is one of the most advanced in the world. The similar equipment was installed at Riga’s 2nd Power Station, which is the largest in Latvia.