Eesti Energia: Demand fell in 2020 while renewables output rose

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Eesti Energia power station. Source: ERR

State-owned energy giant Eesti Energia saw a fall in output of 31 percent in 2020, to 3,808 Gigawatt Hours (GWh), across all three Baltic States and Poland.

The company says it is still on course for growing its green energy aspects, which accounted for nearly 40 percent of electricity and heat production last year.

Eesti Energia board chair Hando Sutter says production and sales volumes were strongly affected by lower energy demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, and also relatively mild weather, as well as low – even negative at one point – oil prices worldwide.

Sutter said: "We witnessed the seemingly impossible negative price in the oil market, and for the first time in Estonia, we experienced how electricity consumption was paid for by the seller during a few hours.

"There was much more uncertainty and price volatility in the energy markets compared with previous years," Sutter added, via a press release.

Shale oil still biggest component of energy output

The company produced a total of 10 TWh energy across the Baltic States and Poland in 2020, just over half of which consisted of shale oil and just under 40 percent comprising electricity.

The remaining 10 percent resulted from heat generation (heat generated by power stations, particularly in or near the eastern Estonian town of Narva, is often used directly to warm up nearby domestic dwelling houses – ed.).

The incoming Center/Reform coalition has made the pursuit of green energy a priority, which will mean Eesti Energia transitioning over time from oil shale-based energy to renewables.

The company, however, says it is on top of this, with a reduction in the carbon intensity of energy production leading to CO2 emissions falling by 35 percent over 2020, from 5.9 million to 3.8 million tonnes.

Some power stations were on idle earlier on in 2020, the result of a combination of the pandemic and mild weather.

Eesti Energia's renewables subsidiary is Enefit Green. 

Over the preceding three years, Eesti Energia says its carbon footprint has decreased more than three-fold (see graph below).

Eesti Energia's graph showing CO2 total emissions 2017-2020. Source: Eesti Energia

In total, Eesti Energia says it produced 1.9 TWh of renewable energy, both electricity and heat, comprising 38 percent of the Group's total electricity and heat output.

Notwithstanding the new government's emphasis on clean energy and winding down oil shale over time, Eesti Energia produced more shale oil – which has a variety of industrial applications as well as for burning in power stations, and is mined nearby in Ida-Viru County – than ever before, at 5.1 TWh (452,000 tonnes).

 This fulfills the state's expectation of adding value to oil shale more efficiently, and somehow in an environmentally friendly manner too, Eesti Energia says.

Quick facts for 2020

  • Eesti Energia renewables electricity output – 1.5 Twh, out of 3.8 Twh of total electricity generation.
  • Renewables electricity output increased around 20 percent.
  • Wind farms in Estonia and Lithuania producing a total of 1.1 TWh of renewable electricity.
  • Heat from renewable sources accounted for a third of total 1.1 TWh of heat produced.
  • 7.7 TWh of electricity sold domestically, double the the production volume.
  • Sales of thermal energy amounted to 0.9 TWh and sales of shale oil to 461,000 tonnes.
  • Gas sales doubled to 2 TWh.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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