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Position regarding the EU Nature Restoration Regulation

Aug 02, 2023

Lithuanian hydropower association supports the initiative and long term efforts to preserve nature and restore at least 20% of the ecosystems on the lands and seas of the EU. Having the Nature Restoration Regulation in mind, we call for balancing environmental and economic interests as well as providing adequate financial support in order to reach the set targets.  

Climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. We can mitigate the consequences of climate change by phasing out fossil fuels and instead using only renewable sources for electricity generation.

It must be noted that:

  • Hydropower is clean, safe and green;
  • Hydropower plants are flexible and can quickly respond to fluctuating electricity demand and supply, in addition, they can function as storage units;
  • Flexible base generation units allow to integrate more volatile sun and wind generation into the electricity system;
  • Gas power plants, which are now used as flexible base generation units, use fossil fuels and are incompatible with the EU Green Deal, so hydropower is a viable and readily available alternative;
  • European energy transition is impossible without hydropower;
  • DG ENER emphasises the importance of hydropower in the new European electricity market design, and DG RTD considers European hydropower technologies a global competitive advantage which must be maintained;
  • The need for flexible and green power generation and storage units is rising and will rise even more in the future.

In order to reconcile EU energy and climate goals, development of renewable electricity generation and security of electricity supply must be ensured, which means that existing hydropower plants must be maintained at their full capacity and the target measures must be adjusted accordingly.

According to the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, there are 1371 river barriers and only 96 hydropower plants in Lithuania.

Taking this into account, we support the statement in the currently discussed version of the Nature Restoration Regulation that “When removing barriers, Member States shall primarily address obsolete barriers, which are those that are no longer needed for renewable energy generation, inland navigation, water supply, flood protection, or other uses”. Based on the comments given by the Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius during the debates, we expect that member states indeed shall not sabotage the hydropower sector and shall implement the Article 7(2) without discrimination, prejudice, and subjective interpretations.

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