Electricity network operator Elektrilevi receives 500 new applications each week from small-scale and domestic electricity producers, wishing to connect to the grid. In Hiiumaa, where the large increase in domestic solar energy producers means they will not all be able to do so, Elektrilevi will, for the first time, install storage facilities.
"Every week, we receive 500 new applications for connection from home electricity producers," said Mihkel Härm, chair of Elektrilevi's management board, on ETV's morning show. "A year ago, we received 100 (per week). The grid is not prepared for this (increase). We are also looking every day for new network engineers, because we don't even have the time to calculate the cost of these connection proposals," said Härm.
Consumption and production levels on the grid need to be constantly balanced. Despite investments of up to €100 million this year, Elektrilevi has so far been unable able to build enough new substations and to cater for all regions of Estonia.
"In Hiiumaa, for example, the grid is full," said Härm. "To address this, we are about to introduce a large-scale storage project for Hiiumaa."
Storing the solar electricity produced during periods when the sun is not shining, will add to capacity. "Essentially, we are doubling the small-scale production potential in Hiiumaa," said Härm.
This is the first project of its kind in Estonia. "Ee have found a solution, even though it has taken longer than we wanted," Härm explained. "The total cost comes to several million euros," he said.
In urban areas, most small-scale electricity producers are still able to connect to the grid, however, in the countryside there are a number of so-called "red areas," where such possibilities are more limited.
"Up to now, we have been encouraging people to produce energy for their own use. This also involves the lowest start-up cost. My advice is, that if you have the money, become a small electricity producer, but produce it for yourself," said Härm.
Estonia's electricity retail grid, similar to those in many other countries, was not originally built with large-scale renewable energy production in mind.
Editor: Michael Cole