Ignalina district is a small area, with a population of only about 17 thousand, in the north-eastern outskirts of Lithuania, Utena county, where traditionally (until 1997) the old type of “boiler rooms” (based on solid fuel) dominated and centrally provided heat and hot water to Ignalina and bigger towns of the district.

Substantial changes in the heat sector began during 1997-2003, when a consistent process of modernization of the heat economy was carried out: 30 heat substations modernised, gradually changing the type of fuel into biofuel (investment of EUR 1.9 million). Biofuels accounted for 99 % of the fuel used in 2004. Important steps were made in 2007-2008: a smoke condensing economiser was installed in the boiler house of Ignalina, hot water supply was decentralized by installing 109 new autonomous heat substations. In 2009-2011 worn-out heat supply routes were replaced, thus reducing heat loss in pipelines by about 60 %.

During 2011-2013 a 117 m2 solar collector system was installed in a boiler house of one of the bigger towns (Dūkštas) with the help of EU funds. The heat from the sun produces over 80 MWh per year, which accounts for 5.8 % of annual heat production in this boiler house.

Since then the municipality of Ignalina district is presented throughout Lithuania as an example of how to handle the heat economy. Many municipalities are beginning to get interested in this sector and are trying to replicate an especially successful example of modernization.

The municipality of Ignalina district was the first in Lithuania to renovate apartment buildings in accordance with the new renovation model and began to implement the programme of energy efficiency improvement “Enervision of Ignalina”. This model stirred renovation processes across the country and has become an example for other municipalities. Nowadays Ignalina is undergoing the final works in the modernization of apartment buildings and after completing the programme the city has a unique opportunity to undertake new viable projects.

In the territory of the municipality all the most important public buildings were renovated back in 2015. Schools, kindergartens, culture and medical institutions, administrative and community buildings were fixed in a modern fashion and not only in the city, but also in the neighbourhoods of the district. A total of 40 buildings were renovated and about 10 million euros were used. Not only did it change the aesthetic image of the buildings, but it also improved the working conditions and made it possible to achieve significant heat savings. Renovated buildings use about half as much energy, saved energy costs cover the investment, and there is a notable improvement in the quality of life. In 2017 additional 14.2 million euros were invested in this programme.

The programme “Enervision of Ignalina 2” is currently being implemented in the renovation of apartment buildings. By investing 6.5 million euros, another 30 apartment buildings will be renewed.

The renovation of apartment buildings also reached smaller towns and villages of the district. Today (in the beginning of 2018), 99 apartment buildings (59%) are renovated, including 85 houses in Ignalina (81%). Almost all apartment buildings (102 out of 105) will be renovated in Ignalina, reaching 97.7 percent indicator. In total, 129 (76%) residential apartment buildings will be renovated in Ignalina district. For this purpose, 24.67 million euros from various sources will be invested.

The average 2016/2017 price of centralized heating during the heating season per kilowatt-hour (with 9 % VAT) was 5.71 ct/kWh in Lithuania and 6.39 ct/kWh in Ignalina. During the heating season in Ignalina city, the average heat consumption per one square meter is 13.20 kWh/m² per month. The average cost of heating for one m² is 0.84 euros per month. In the renovated buildings of Ignalina an average of 660 kWh (13.2 kWh/m² per month) is used monthly for heating a 50 m² apartment. The cost for heating an apartment: 42.17 euros per month. While in non-renovated buildings in Ignalina city an average of 1072 kWh (21.44 kWh/m² per month) is used monthly for heating a 50 m² apartment. And the cost for heating is 68.5 euros per month.

This year, the heating season in Ignalina was announced on October 5, but a significant part of houses turned on the heating later, because the temperature of about 20 ºC remained in the apartments. Inhabitants of the city do not decrease in numbers, as renovated housing is gladly bought by people from other cities. Ignalina seeks to become the first city to start a project for low-temperature heat supply. After the renovations, heat networking company of Ignalina suffers considerable losses; its income decreased 25 percent. As the heating demand for the city decreases by 50 % it is possible to provide hot water of lower parameters to the heat substations (reduced fuel consumption, lower heat losses in the tracks).

In order to maintain its leadership position, Ignalina must rapidly move forward, assess future trends, prepare for energy decentralization and expand cooperation with business and science. As a Member of the European Parliament Bronis Ropė has informed, the European Parliament is currently discussing an important set of legal documents: the Clean Energy package. The main objective of the package is to ensure that the European economy redesigns the production and use of clean energy and, at the same time, remains competitive. The package consists of three thematic parts: energy efficiency, a global European leadership in the development and implementation of clean energy, and regulation of consumer relations. It is also emphasized that energy policy is becoming more and more democratic.

The idea of the project was discussed with German experts during an international event in Ignalina on November 24, 2017. German experts, in principle, endorsed the implementation of the idea. It is planned that, in cooperation with the German experts, the project for the development of heat supply at low temperatures in Ignalina should start in the near future. In the first stage it is planned to prepare a feasibility study, and in the second stage, after assessing the possibilities, to start implementation works.

Ignalina District Municipality together with PLLC Ignalina Heat Networks (UAB Ignalinos Šilumos tinklai) is preparing to submit a project “Low-temperature heat supply in Ignalina” for the Environmental Innovation Programme for Projects Abroad of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. The essence of the new project: to reduce heat losses and after evaluating the data and needs of all houses to adjust the heat transfer system, adapting it to the existing conditions. Within the implementation of project activities, it is planned to replace existing boilers in the boiler house of Ignalina with economically operating boilers of lower capacity, and to make technical decisions for the provision of heat supply with low-temperature technological processes. The investment demand is about 700 thousand euros.

Prepared by Inga Šidlauskienė, the director of a public body “Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Regional Development Agency”, according to the information of the Ignalina District Municipality Administration.