District heating provider Utilitas Tallinn applied for authorization by the Environmental Board to switch from natural gas to diesel for district heating production for the Estonian capital. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications considers the granting of this exception to be justified.
Utilitas produces thermal energy in Tallinn primarily from biomass, supplementing with natural gas to cover peak demand in winter as well as during maintenance.
"In its application, the company has described that they were unable to procure sufficient volumes of natural gas supplies from the gas market," the ministry said in its response to the Environmental Board. "This information is also supported by the overall situation on the natural gas market."
According to the ministry, based on August data, not all suppliers have the gas necessary for the heating season ahead fully ensured yet, due to which all gas consumers should limit their use of gas if possible as well as start using alternative fuels.
"This will ensure that there will be gas throughout the heating period and that supplies to the most vulnerable consumer groups aren't disrupted," the ministry wrote.
The Economic Affairs Ministry agrees with Utilitas' assessment regarding supply difficulties and finds that the use of diesel fuel in lieu of natural gas is thus justified.
The ministry finds that it would be reasonable to apply the exemption through the end of the upcoming heating period, i.e. through the end of May 2023.
Estonia's district heating sector is capable of replacing a combined terawatt-hour's worth of natural gas with shale oil during the heating season, equaling approximately a quarter of Estonia's current gas consumption or one third of natural gas consumed by district heating during a single heating season thus far.
Editor: Aili Vahtla