Price of electricity to surge on Wednesday

Elering paid out €8 million renewable energy subsidy in July (picture is illustrative).
Elering paid out €8 million renewable energy subsidy in July (picture is illustrative). Source: Priit Luts/ERR

The price of electricity will increase to almost eight times the usual price on Wednesday due to the failure of the submarine NordBalt power cable between Lithuania and Sweden, a power outage in Riga and EstLink maintenance. The price of electricity in Estonia will rise to approximately €255 per megawatt-hour on Wednesday morning.

Chairman of the Management Board of Eesti Energia Hando Sutter told (link in Estonian) ERR on Tuesday the price of electricity in Estonia will increase on Wednesday from approximately 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. - i.e. during peak hours. Sutter said €255 is almost eight times higher than usual.

Speaking about the NordBalt cable, a submarine power cable, he said: "The cable has 700 megawatts, which is practically as much electricity as Estonia currently consumes in June. It plays a very important role in supplying the Baltic States with cheap hydropower from the Nordic countries."

Lithuanian national broadcaster LRT wrote on Monday Lithuania's electricity grid operator, Litgrid, said the power cable disconnected abruptly on Sunday. An expert team has been established by Litgrid to investigate the reasons for the disruption.

On Tuesday, a major power outage occurred in Latvia, when a high-voltage cable exploded in Riga and a gas-fired power plant shut down. It is not yet known what caused the incident. 

"The Estonian-Latvian-Lithuanian market is well connected to each other, and if a large production unit, one of which has a power plant running on Riga gas, fails, the supply will be decreased," Sutter said. 

Sutter said one of the reasons behind the interruption in Riga may be a heavy thunderstorm which took place earlier on Tuesday.

Another reason for the price increase is because, usually, electricity is consumed at a higher rate during the day and falls again in the evening, which means prices are higher during the day.

"The situation in the electricity market is quite tense right now," Sutter added. "The situation is made worse by the fact that EstLink, which connects Estonia and Finland, is undergoing regular repairs and makes this supply situation in the Baltics more tense. As long as this NordBalt outage lasts - there is currently no information about it, as it is an accidental breakdown."

Postimees wrote (link in Estonian) on Tuesday due to maintenance only a third of EstLink's capacity can be used until Friday.

In connection with the electricity market deficit, Estonia has restarted its own power plants

"In fact, our thermal power plants in Narva have been standing [still] for quite a long time, and we have mainly only used one part of the power plant there to burn gas generated from the production of shale oil, and we started operating them on Sunday morning. We are ready, we have promised the owner that we will keep 1,000 megawatts of capacity, even though we do not use them on a daily basis, especially at this time, when a lot of cheap electricity has come from the Nordic countries. Today, it is very clear that we need to maintain this local production capacity so that in such situations we can keep the lights on in Estonia," Sutter said.

He said the situation is quite unique, as currently the electricity in the Nordic countries has been very cheap and there has been little local production in Estonia.

 "Maybe if this had happened in a situation where we had all the stations at work, we wouldn't have noticed so much," Sutter said.

Sutter said he does not remember a similar incident in recent history when so many bad things had occurred at once.

Postimees reported Sutter as saying: "The good news for consumers is that, despite everything, the lights are on."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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