Minister: Power outages unlikely in Estonia but risks have gone up

Minister of Economic Affairs Riina Sikkut (SDE).
Minister of Economic Affairs Riina Sikkut (SDE). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Finnish power grid operator Fingrid recently warned that there might be outages due to production shortages this winter. While Estonia's Minister of Economic Affairs Riina Sikkut (SDE) does not hold this likely in Estonia because Baltic production capacity can cover peak demand, risks have nevertheless grown.

Fingrid said on Monday that while Finland should have enough power for the winter under normal circumstances, disruptions at power plants or transmission lines could mean power outages of a few hours as a result of the country not having enough generation.

Sikkut told ERR that grid operators regularly analyze supply security and consider risk scenarios, while these topics are paid more attention in the current market situation and in light of the day's concerns.

"Even though Baltic capacity should cover peak demand, risks have indeed grown," Sikkut said, adding that risks have become more than theoretical for both Fingrid and Estonia.

In Estonian context, the minister pointed to gas scarcity due to Latvia and Lithuania operating gas-powered power plants the output of which depends on the weather (whether renewables production is available – ed.). If they are operational all the time, the demand for gas will soar, which inevitably affects prices and availability in the region.

Sikkut also pointed to desynchronization risks as Estonia is preparing to disconnect from the Russian energy grid and join the European one, while Russia uses energy for blackmail, splitting Europe and as a weapon in the Ukraine war.

"Therefore, the risk of Russia taking unilateral action that would require us to power up the gas plants, as while we can immediately join the European mainland grid, it would be more expensive and complicated, has also grown," Sikkut added.

She said that it would mean a spike in the need for gas for the Baltic countries. Gas consumption fell considerably in the first half-year as a result of high prices. District heating providers are switching to shale oil and gas consumption will be much more modest than in the last five years.

"But should it grow again, reaching the five-year average, I do not see a problem if we have the LNG terminal," the minister said, adding that she cannot comment on the preparedness of Latvia and Lithuania.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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