Estonia will not leave the Russian energy grid before the previously agreed deadline of 2025, head of Elering Taavi Veskimägi told ERR on Monday. However, if needed, a connection to the European grid can be established.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have agreed to disconnect from the Russian grid and to the continental European electricity system by the end of 2025.
The issue has come more problematic due to Russia's war in Ukraine, but Veskimägi is not proposing to bring the deadline forward.
"We are working with a late 2025 perspective today. We see no need to force it [earlier] from the Estonian or Baltic side. However, our preparedness is improving daily, should the other side decide to isolate us," he said.
The connection with the Russian grid has been a concern for a decade and work has been carried out to reduce the risk, the Elering boss said.
In recent months the technical and legal capabilities have been achieved to allow for desynchronization from the Russian grid and synchronization with Europe. He said, if needed, this would only take a few hours.
However, there is no plan to leave the Russian grid sooner as this would create additional costs because extraordinary methods, such as keeping power stations running 24/7 whether it makes financial sense to do so or not, would have to be used.
Siemens is currently building three synchronous condenser stations to ensure the frequency stability of the power grid. The first will be read next year and the remaining two in 2024. Powerlines are also being built between Narva and Tartu.
All this means Estonia could technically disconnect from the Russian grid if it wanted to but Veskimägi believes there is little point in doing so as long as Russia does not do something unexpected.
"Every extra day gives us more capacity and confidence. We must have absolute faith in the electricity system, that the lights will stay on in every eventuality. Today, we do not want to end synchronization work with the Russian electricity system before the end of 2025. However, should it break, we will be able to manage," he said.
When the Baltics leave the Russian grid, they will have total control over their electricity systems. Possibilities for electricity trading between the Baltics and other countries belonging to the Continental Europe frequency area will also improve.
Veskimägi said Russia suddenly ending its supply of electricity to Finland will have little effect on the Baltics and Europe.
Finland's third nuclear power station Olkiluoto will start working later this year and this will more than cover the loss. The country is also investing in wind energy.
Editor: Helen Wright