Reform-Center coalition talks: Renewables to take precedence over oil shale

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Kaja Kallas (left) and Mailis Reps after Tuesday's round of coalition negotiations. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Transitioning to greater dependence on renewable energy will be accompanied by a halting in support for more traditional fossil fuels-based energy production under a Reform-Center coalition government, Kaja Kallas (Reform) said Tuesday night, as reported on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

The change will particularly affect Ida-Viru County in northeastern Estonia, where oil shale mining, refining and power generation has long been a staple.

More offshore wind-farms are needed to help meet these climate goals, Kallas said, and marry them to EU climate targets which the outgoing administration signed up to.

Wind-farms, particularly land-based ones, had met plenty of obstacles in their development down the years; Kallas said that such obstructions need to be removed. Areas earmarked for wind-farms will then be put up for auction, Kallas said.

Kallas: Ida-Viru County will need new economic underpinning

As for Ida-Viru County, a new socio-economic model is needed to mitigate the effects of the declining oil shale sector, Kallas went on.

Kallas said: "People there are very particular and very hard-working. There needs to be a new industry that needs people with similar skills."

What will happen with state owned electricity generator Eesti Energia's own oil shale burning power station facilities is not clear yet; Center's Mailis Reps, heading her party's negotiating team, said that €126 million already allocated will not be withdrawn, and profitability needed to be monitored.

Reps told AK that: "If there is no profitability, we will look again and I know that the moment of truth should come soon."

Center has traditionally drawn a lot of its support from the Russian-speaking populace in Ida-Viru County, though in the March 2019 general election, voter turnout was particularly low there.

Other existing or proposed energy sources include solar panel parks - more feasible than might appear at first glance due to the long summer days in Estonia - and nuclear power, which has so far only been touted as a source. Eesti Energia has also looked at building a methanol plant in Ida-Viru County.

The oil shale sector actually reported a successful 2020 despite the pandemic; high oil shale world prices were partly behind this.

Kallas: State sector tree-felling should be reduced

The pair also discussed another aspect of Estonia's natural resources, its forest, agreeing that state forestry commission the RMK's felling quotas should be reduced, due to ecological, social and economic considerations.

Kallas said: "The RMK's felling volumes are under state control, RMK should not cut as much, this could reduce the felling pressure."

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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