Eesti Energia says it has halved CO2 emissions on year, oil shale not dead

Eesti Energia CEO Hando Sutter.
Eesti Energia CEO Hando Sutter. Source: ERR

State-owned electricity generator Eesti Energia has reduced its CO2 emissions by 50 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) the company says, and has tripled its renewables energy production over the same period.

Hando Sutter, CEO of Eesti Energia, made the announcement Tuesday, BNS reports, adding that the European Commission's climate neutrality target for 2050 is achievable, even if oil shale production continues into the future, if handled with care.

"To do this (i.e. attain climate neutrality), we need to analyze each investment from the point of view of environmental protection, affordability and security, and favor local resources and expertise, as this will leave more value to Estonia," Sutter said at the annual conference of the World Energy Council (WEC) Estonia in Tallinn on Tuesday.

"The energy sector has been the backbone of the Estonian economy for years, and if we want it to continue to be so, we need to get our plans in place quickly within the country," he continued, according to BNS.

In pursuit of this the company says it is planning investments into the expansion of liquid fuels from oil shale production, pre-refining, and investments into new renewable energy production capacities.

Oil shale industry not obstacle to climate goals

"The oil shale industry is not an obstacle to the country's climate goals. Direct burning of oil shale into electricity has been reduced by 50 percent over the past year already, and will decrease further due to the closure of older production facilities and rising CO2 prices," Sutter added.

Sutter also said that as global demand for petroleum products is growing, oil production from oil shale is likely to remain competitive for the next couple of decades, making it rational to produce high-quality liquid fuels for which there is local expertise in Estonia.

"At the same time, making money from oil production will enable [us] to increase investment in renewable energy development, as has been the case with Norway's oil money, for example," Sutter went on.

Eesti Energia's renewable energy subsidiary Enefit Green is planning to establish new wind farms, both offshore and onshore, in Estonia.

"Although the investment environment into energy has been poor in recent years, due to defense and environmental constraints as well as very high network costs for developments, plus the 'not in my backyard' approach, as well as Russian electricity sullying the market, it is welcome that the government of Estonia wants to find solutions in most problem areas," Sutter continued.

Cheaper Russian and Belarusian electricity not subject to EU CO2 charges has found its way on to Nord Pool European electrical energy market in recent months.

This year, Eesti Energia announced the wish to establish a new wind farm in Risti, in Lääne County, as well as on the depleted peatland in Tootsi, Pärnu County, where the land under the wind farm should once again be put up for sale at an auction soon. Eesti Energia is also developing two offshore wind farms, the company says.

Last Thursday, the government decided to instruct the Ministry of the Environment to put the property of the Tootsi wind farm under its control up for sale at an auction.

According to Sutter, Estonia's focus in achieving climate neutrality should be primarily in those sectors where, unlike the energy sector, no CO2 tax is applied, namely transport, housing, agriculture and forestry.

"Eesti Energia also has ideas for helping these sectors; the electrification of transport, for example, is one key to moving towards a climate neutral future," Sutter added.

"We are developing a modern electric car charging networks and new services for electric car owners which would help introduce several times more electric cars to Estonia in the coming years, making electric cars as storage units an important component of the Estonian electricity system," Sutter added.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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