HISTORY OF HYDROENERGETICS
History of hydroenergetics began with invention of water wheel, which transforms energy of running water into mechanical energy. Principle of water wheel was used in the various mills. First mentioning of mills in Lithuania was in 13 century. Later in the centuries amount of various mills grew rapidly, even mill tax was introduced.
First small hydropower plant in Lithuania was build in 1900 in west Lithuania on the Virvytė river. In 1909 first researches on how to use hydroenergetics of the biggest river in Lithuania – Nemunas – begun. Nevertheless, hydropower plant on the river Nemunas was built 50 years later, in 1959.
In the beginning of 20th century there were 640 enterprises using water energy (with water wheels and hydroturbines) in Lithuania. Many of them were destroyed during II World War. 335 small enterprises were left in 1948 and just 111 in 1958.
During Soviet era main focus was on big energetic projects. Small hydropower plants were abandoned and most of them left to rust.
When Lithuania regained its independence, necessity of energetic independence also emerged. This became vital after closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Using renewable energy sources is also important for the implementation of the EU directives.
Currently in Lithuania there are 82 small hydropower plants ant 2 big hydropower plants (Kaunas HPP and Kruonis PSP). Small plants produce about 68 millions of kWh yearly. Kaunas HPP alone produces 300 millions of kWh every year.