State-owned energy group Eesti Energia laid the cornerstone for a new shale oil plant on Tuesday, set to be completed in four years and totaling €320 million in development costs. The company confirmed that it intends to transition from oil shale energy to circularity and waste treatment.
The first Enefit 280 plant was developed in Auvere 10 years ago. The dream for Eesti Energia then was to be able to produce gasoline in Estonia. The company now talks about the effect of the green transition on the chemical industry. While the new plant will start up as a classic oil shale plant, it will transition to a chemical plant, which will work waste plastics and tires without burning any of the produce.
"Polymers, plastics, synthetic fabrics, which we wear. Petrochemicals are all around us. And if we can reduce the use of crude oil even a little and use the remains of these petrochemicals and work them, then that is a chemical industry, which is based on circular economy," said Eesti Energia board chair Hando Sutter.
Waste plastic management technologies have been researched and tests will begin in the existing oil plant in the upcoming year.
"[On Tuesday], we also had a piece of a wind turbine blade on stage. This blade has finished its functional lifetime. The question is that it is a composite of several different materials and pyrolysis is an option to disassemble it for recycling," said Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) Oil Shale Competence Center manager Kalle Pirk.
The only process that creates CO2 at the Enefit 280 plant is the afterburning of the semi-coke left over from pyrolysis in order to prevent organic compounds from entering the environment, the company announced via press release.
Estonian researchers will also study making production carbon neutral so that the new plant could continue operating past 2045 to be profitable for the Estonian economy.
"All raw materials, technology, logistics, operations, logistics again, the port where it leaves, all of it is Estonia's. And we produce more than €100 million in export turnover, all of it goes toward exports and we pay taxes in Estonia," Hando Sutter said.
"Eesti Energia is solving a significant environmental problem by developing the chemical industry. 12,000 tons of waste tyres and 45,000 tons of waste plastics are generated in Estonia every year. If this waste is no longer deposited or incinerated but recycled for chemical purposes, we will have taken a big step forward by wisely implementing the green revolution," Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center) said.
The next-generation oil plant will cost €320 million and should begin operating in four years. After start-up, the oil plant will create a total of about 500 direct and indirect jobs.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste