Estonian PM repeats potential electricity blackouts warning

Light bulbs.
Light bulbs. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) warned again on Thursday of potential power cuts due to low energy supplies. According to Kallas, the risk of blackouts can be reduced by reducing electricity consumption at peak times.

"We are currently in a situation where there is a shortage of electricity in the whole Nord Pool area. There are different reasons for this. One reason is that there is no longer 1,000 megawatts coming from Russia, so (this means) there is a shortage of over 1,000 megawatts in the Nord Pool area," Kallas said, at a government press conference.

"Then, at the moment, several important power plants are offline. For example, the fourth reactor at the Ringhals (nuclear) plant and the third reactor at the Oskarshamn plant (both of which are) in Sweden. In Finland, the third reactor at the Olkiluoto plant has failed to start up and our own Auvere plant is down again. Although, this no longer even makes it into the news. It would (however), probably make the news if Auvere was working perfectly," said Kallas.

"Estonia's problem is, that we are still consuming so much energy, as if we didn't have these concerns," Kallas added.

Kallas said, that the long-term solution to the energy shortage is investment in new energy sources, power generation and power plants and connections with other countries. However, the short-term solution is possible blackouts or making energy savings by managing consumption levels.

"When I talk about power outages, I am not trying to frighten or threaten anyone. I am simply stating the fact, that we need to reduce our consumption and shift it away from peak times. In terms of time, those peak hours are perhaps between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. as well as from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. That's when consumption levels are high. If we don't do that, we may be forced to have regional blackouts for a couple of hours," Kallas said.

Kallas said that a two percent reduction in electricity consumption during peak hours would reduce the risk of blackouts fivefold.

"If we can maintain a situation where our peak consumption does not exceed the generation capacity, either from the connectors, or that we ourselves have at the moment, then there is no reason to have blackouts. However, if we don't think about saving electricity and we have exceptionally cold winter weather, then such outages may be necessary," Kallas said.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) said, that the whole of Europe was dealing with the same problem, adding that EU energy ministers had agreed on a 5 percent reduction in peak-time consumption.

"If peak-time consumption is lower, the risks for the energy system as a whole are also significantly less. There is a pan-European understanding, that the environment is riskier. All countries are making a mandatory effort to reduce consumption at peak times. Estonia's risks are in no way higher (than anywhere else). Other countries are preparing in the same way," Sikkut said.

In September, Kallas appeared on a telethon, in which she warned of possible power cuts due to Estonia disconnecting from the Russian electricity grid.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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