State-owned power generator Eesti Energia is set to invest €2.5 billion over a five-year period, of which €1.5 billion is to go on construction of wind and solar parks, with the rest earmarked for development in Ida-Viru County, and also to making the electricity grid more effective than it is at present.
The investment in renewables will help to resolve the issue of supply, which in turn has been blamed for much of the unprecedented price increase in recent months, while the company uses the investment plans as justification for its substantial profits - three times higher in the second quarter of 2022 (Q2 2022) than in the same quarter in 2021.
Eesti Energia spokesperson Mattias Kaiv told ERR Monday that: "Since the main current problem is that our region as a whole lacks electricity production capacity, the fastest and most appropriate solution for society in the current energy crisis is to invest in renewable electricity."
The current picture with renewables is also lacking, he added.
"The problem is not only whether there is enough wind or sun [in Estonia], but that there are generally too few renewable energy production capacities in the Baltic States as a whole."
Kaiv added that wind and solar farms are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly methods of producing energy, while the more of them exist, the less likely will be the entry of more expensive and more polluting power plants into the market and pushing up prices.
Eesti Energia already invested €24.7 million in the electricity network, €39.9 million in renewables and €16.8 million in the Enefit 280 planned oil shale plant this year so far.
Downtime with wind and solar energy, meaning the winter months primarily, in both cases, can be covered by other capacities, while security of supply also gets a boost via the development of storage technologies such as a planned hydroelectric storage plant.
Increased capacity also pre-supposes a rise in cooperation with smaller suppliers, while the investments will also provide jobs, and by-products can also be provided for other industries.
Kaiv: Interest in small-scale production has increased manifold
Interest in being a small producer of electricity, via renewable sources, has multiplied recently, Kaiv added, as illustrated by the fact Eesti Energia receives about 150 inquiries about the purchase and installation of solar panels every week, he said.
Furthermore, grid distributor Elektrilevi, responsible for ensuring the connection of small producers, meaning primarily new solar power plants, to the grid, received 3,218 such connection applications in the second quarter, a fourfold rise on year.
Agreements have been concluded with around 1,000 of these.
As reported by ERR News, Eesti Energia's renewables subsidiary, Enefit Green, has taken on the under-development Tootsi wind farm, which has an output capacity of 74 MW, and plans to augment this with the Sopi windfarm – which together with Tootsi will generate 161 MW.
"This state-of-the-art integrated park alone will double the current production of Estonian wind electricity," Kaiv said, in relation to two planned wind farms.
A total of 258 MW of new renewables capacity is under development across the region, from the Tolpanvaara wind farm in Finland, in the North, through to the Purtse wind farm in Estonia, the Akmene and Šilale II wind 8 farms in Lithuania, and two solar farms in Poland.
As of the end of June, the Elektrilevi network had a total of 12,808 consumption points and a capacity of 545.5 MW. In the period June 23-26, it accounted for more than half of Estonia's electricity consumption.
Eesti Energia board chair Hando Sutter said last week that the concern's large profits - €33 million in Q2 2022 - are needed for investments which will ensure sustainability in renewable consumption by 2030.
Editor: Andrew Whyte