Forecasts of Estonia's leading power transmission network operator Elektrilevi show that while solar parks already cover half of Estonia's total electricity needs on a clear summer day, Estonia could become a solar power exporter a few years from now, CEO Mihkel Härm told ERR.
The Elektrilevi network currently holds around 400 megawatts (MW) of solar power, with hundreds of applications to join the grid. If Elektrilevi manages to realizes its plans and secure enough funding, solar power could cover domestic need in full on sunny days with power to spare, Härm said.
Solar generation stations already send 200 MW or more to the grid around noon on sunny March days, which has helped lower prices. Existing solar parks could cover half of Estonia's demand in the summer.
Andres Meesak, head of the Estonian Association of Solar Energy, said that simply connecting all existing plants to the grid would help cover almost all of domestic demand on summer weekends.
However, this sunny future is facing serious obstacles, not least of which is the fact that the grid is saturated in many parts of Estonia, with newcomers unable to join.
While there is still vacancy near major settlements and industrial complexes, the situation is most critical on the islands, Härm said, adding that it is already impossible to offer power for the grid in Hiiumaa. And there will be more such regions for as long as network investments are held back, the CEO added.
Elektrilevi has asked the state for €55 million to invest in the grid but has not received a reply yet.
"The islands would get €20-25 million of that money that would give us 200-300 MW of additional capacity. Another region where we could create 100-150 MW of new capacity with €12-13 million is Pärnu and Viljandi counties," Härm said.
In all, €55 million would buy 700 MW of new power transmission capacity in Estonia.
Härm said that the company currently prioritizes, in terms of who is allowed to join the grid, micro producers who want to add up to 15 kW of capacity for personal consumption.
Editor: Marcus Turovski