'Olukorrast riigis': State should be decisive in renewable energy calls

'Olukorrast riigis' hosts Indrek Lepik and Hindrek Riikoja.
'Olukorrast riigis' hosts Indrek Lepik and Hindrek Riikoja. Source: Siiri Lubasoo/ERR

Journalists Hindrek Riikoja and Indrek Lepik said on the Raadio 2 "Olukorrast riigis" talk show that Estonia needs to decisively solve problems surrounding development of renewable energy capacity to solve its energy problems in a situation where wind farm projects have virtually ground to a halt.

The government agreed on ways to alleviate the energy prices shock late last week and will be compensating consumers for half of the power transmission fee, while also helping least fortunate households pay their electricity bills.

"On the one hand, an approach that attempts to apply logic and a system is welcome, unlike in some southern European countries where money is being thrown out of an airplane so to speak, with no heed to who needs it and who does not," Riikoja said.

The host went on to say that it is even more important to consider what to do in the long run, in order to contain electricity price advance. "The Competition Authority this week proposed revising the renewable energy fee, saying that while the fee was introduced because wind power used to be more expensive than electricity generated using oil shale, high prices no longer make that the case."

Longer-reaching steps are needed to solve energy problems because various wind farm projects have ground to a halt in Estonia, Riikoja suggested. "This is where the state should put its foot down, come up with a solution to get the ball rolling again," he said. The host added that constructing a nuclear power plant in Estonia could also be considered.

Indrek Lepik said that investments in renewable energy should be stepped up in order to move off fossil alternatives. "The renewable energy fee has grown eight times in the last 15 years. Talking about the green turn and renewable capacity, the government must think of a way to change this situation," he said.

"We need to take a frank look at how we are developing green energy today. I believe we can say the support scheme is a good thing. It will remain in effect until April, as we have reason to believe the current price crisis is temporary, and the most important thing is to weather the harsh winter that we always get if only for a few weeks. The measure is definitely appropriate. Talking about the other measure where local governments compensate people for electricity bills, the important thing there is for things not to get stuck behind red tape or people forced to prove they deserve help," Lepik opined.

Riikoja said that it has been suggested the least fortunate households' benefit could be paid out after the fact, while it remains unclear what it means. "The problem for many people is that they simply don't have the money. Support made available after payment deadlines have come and gone would be quite useless for many," he said.

He also suggested that high energy prices are not likely to go away in the coming years. "Our relationship with Russia is what it is, securing gas supply from Russia is what it is. There are quite a few factors at play to suggest we will not be returning to business as usual," he said.

Lepik said this would require the EU to take matters of energy into its own hands. "Gazprom is knowingly manipulating Europe, while talk of buying LNG from the Americans has seen that same LNG sold to Asian markets that have been willing to pay a better price," he said.

The hosts also discussed coronavirus certificates, vaccination, Mailis Reps being stripped of her Riigikogu immunity, Tallink profits, the Saaremaa Opera Days and Estonia's treatment of children with disabilities.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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