Elering CEO: It's too early to talk about electricity policy failing

Elering CEO Taavi Veskimägi.
Elering CEO Taavi Veskimägi. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The high electricity prices that broke records this week are not the fault of renewable energy or its producers, but the lack of renewable energy capacity and the unexpectedly rapid recovery of the economy, Elering's CEO Taavi Veskimägi said on Wednesday. He said it is too early to say that European energy policy would have failed.

Speaking on ETV's current affairs show "Esimene stuudio", Veskimägi said prices will not always remain high.

"The new normal will be that there will be hours where electricity is very cheap, there will be hours where electricity is very expensive. Due to the fact that in the future there will be more and more unplanned running cycle production equipment, i.e. wind or solar power plants in the network. We are likely to not see a stable high price in the future," he said.

Veskimägi noted that regarding the green transition, it is important to keep in mind why we are doing it.

"What is the cost of opportunity if we don't? It has been calculated and, of course, these calculations are very different, but we understand that it will be the cost of trillions if we do not try to curb climate change if we do not curb greenhouse gas emissions."

To mitigate the effects of high electricity prices on people with lower incomes, Veskimägi sees targeted social benefits as a solution rather than lowering electricity prices for everyone.

"It really has to be understood that we are talking about here today on the days of peak electricity prices. In the past, we have also seen days where the price of electricity is €250 per megawatt-hour, but for the last four years - last year the average price was €33 euros per megawatt-hour," Veskimägi said.

He said Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas' (Center) appeal to the European Commission is a political choice regarding the pace of the transition.

"Right now, to say in these few days or even months that the European Union's energy policy has failed is certainly too early and too much," he said.

On the one hand, the price of the CO2 quota has doubled, but other factors are also important. "Probably as much as the rise in the price of CO2, is the effect of the decline of the price of both gas and coal," Veskimägi said.

He said that decisions regarding the CO2 quota are a political choice, which must also be made by politicians.

"After all, we designed a CO2 mechanism to help bring renewable energy production equipment to the market and, on a market basis, to close production equipment with high CO2 emissions," he said.

"Today, the price of electricity is expensive not because there are renewable energy producers or because there is a lot of renewable energy, on the contrary, there is little renewable energy and if we had more, we would see lower electricity prices. Fossil fuel power plants, oil shale who buy a CO2 quota,'" Veskimägi said.

However, the main reason for the high prices is that the economy has recovered from the coronavirus crisis much faster than the markets expected, he said.

"Based on this, the reserves are low. Of course, climatic factors such as the low level of hydro reserves in the Nordic countries, low wind conditions in recent times. There are both supply and demand factors, demand is high," Veskimägi said.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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