Expert: Electricity outages not inevitable in Estonia if Russia disconnects
Should the Russian Federatoin cut off its electricity grid connection with the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian grids, this need not mean any immediate outage in Estonia, energy expert Sandor Liive says, adding that even without Russia's energy warfare approach, risks always exist in any grid system
Appearing on ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Friday, Liive said: "The risks would simply increase, since production and consumption in the electricity grid must be constantly balanced, and ensuring this is more difficult within a smaller system."
Liive stressed that the risk of power outages exists every day in any case, and regardless of Russia's decisions. "We have also seen this in Estonia in the past, albeit regionally. This risk is always there. Simply put, if we are no longer a part of the Russian system but if we are not yet connected, via Poland, to the entire frequency system of Central and Western Europe, then the risk simply increases significantly that we may have unexpected interruptions or planned shutdowns, to ensure the stability of the electricity system."
Liive said that since Russia has been using energy as a weapon, the threat of disconnection of the Kaliningrad exclave from its own system can also be used to scare the Batlci States, though at the same time, according to Liive, Russia is practically ready for the separation of Kaliningrad in any case.
He said: "If we look at it practically, the separation of Kaliningrad is now viable for the first time in Russia," referring to the oblast, part of the Russian Federation but separated from it and sandwiched between the EU states of Lithuania and Poland.
With that in mind, Russia has worked towards making Kaliningrad energy-autonomous, and making St. Petersburg less plugged into the Baltic grid too.
"Russia has built enough gas stations in Kaliningrad, since it will continue to function as an independent island if we join the European frequency system in 2025, at the latest. On the other hand, there is also the fact that as of today, Russia has built so many parallel power lines on the other side of Peipsi järv, that if it shuts off Estonia from its system, the electricity will no longer go off in St. Petersburg," he said.
Being disconnected from the Russian grid could, he said, lead to issues if one major line is down (many electricity cables in Estonia are subterranean – ed.), or something happens to one of the power plants in Narva, for instance.
This simply means making sure there is more in reserve, Liive added, while if Russia did disconnect, grid operator Elering would need to, for instance, start up the Kiisa power station, while Latvia may need to generate more as well.
While the synchronization with the rest of the EU grid is going ahead for 2025, Liive said, this will not come cheap for the Baltic States; investments will total €1.5 billion across all three countries, he said, with items to be purchased including large devices which can rapidly change the electricity frequency.
Other electricity links to Estonia include the undersea Estlink 2 cable, which runs between Finland and Estonia.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said Thursday evening that private consumers should make sure they have sufficient stocks of food, drink, heat and light in addition to other continency plan, should a nationwide power outage strike.
Elering chief Taavi Veskimägi said Friday that should Russia pull the plug on its grid links with Estonia, electricity should be back online in Estonia within six to 12 hours maximum.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte