Consumers do not need to worry about a lack of gas this coming winter, even after Russia stops exports, as resources will be replaced, said Andres Taukar, head of the Power Plants and District Heating Association on Tuesday.
Taukar said the current situation is nothing like the 1990s when Estonian homes could not be heated. Now the share of gas used as fuel is much smaller.
"Today, the picture is more diverse and becoming even more diverse. Gas has been replaced by woodchips, which are local raw materials. They have risen in price, but it is available. I do not think our consumers will be cold next winter due to a lack of fuel," Taukar said.
He said 20 percent of the district heating network uses gas. Several districts only use gas but changes are underway to introduce other fuels into the mix for these areas.
Taukar said the country's strategic gas reserves can also be used in a crisis. He said the new LNG terminal at Paldiksi could also be used.
Meanwhile, Tallinn's long-term goal is to stop using natural gas. Currently, half of the capital's heating is provided by woodchips which can be replaced by peat if necessary. The other half runs on natural gas and half of this can be replaced by shale oil or light fuel oil, Taukar said.
"We are currently working on how to secure the last quarter of the gas supply," he added.
Interest in district heating has risen
The association head said there has been an increase in people wishing to join the district heating network.
"The main argument is price, but district heating is also very well guaranteed in terms of security of supply," he said.
Houses close to the network can be connected in six months, so if an application is made now it will likely be connected by winter 2022, Taukar said.
It is not possible to estimate next winter's prices, he said. But district heating companies that use wood chips may be less concerned.
Taukar said the government's support measure this year was "well-targeted" and similar help will be on offer next winter.
"I know that a similar support measure is currently being prepared for next winter. I believe that the country will help consumers," he said.
Editor: Helen Wright