Eesti Energia: Auvere wood chip burning ban may affect electricity prices

Enefit Power.
Enefit Power. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Eesti Energia has said the price of electricity may be affected if its Auvere power plant cannot burn wood chips, a wood industry waste product.

Junior coalition party the Social Democrats (SDE) is against the burning of wood chips for electricity production and the Reform Party and Eesti 200 also support the move.

"We support the future use of wood and forest waste in district heating in cogeneration plants, it is efficient and makes sense. But in the large Narva plants, we do not consider it sensible," Jevgeni Ossinovski, SDE Riigikogu faction chairman, told Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

He said the new government must find a solution.

If restrictions on wood chip burning are introduced, oil shale and natural gas will be used to make electricity instead. This may well lead to increased electricity production costs, Eesti Energia believes.

Andres Vainola, chairman of the board of Enefit Power, which is owned by Eesti Energia, said the Auvere power plant in Narva produced 27 percent of the electricity generated in Estonia during the first quarter of the year.

The company partly used low-quality wood which helped lower prices, he said.

Approximately half of the wood cut down in Estonia is burnt, either in the country or abroad, Ossinovski said.

Data from 2021 shows Eesti Energia used 3 percent of Estonia's biomass. This figure decreased by 30 percent last year as prices rose.

"This waste wood, or 'wood chips', gives the Estonian consumer the opportunity to benefit from the cheapest source of renewable energy. It is probably wise not to touch it, otherwise, this part will be exported and someone outside of Estonia will get it instead," said Vainola.

Both utility and energy company Utilitas and wood pellet producer Graanul Invest did not want to comment to "AK" about the potential ban.

Siim Umbleja, head of the Association of Power Plants and District Heating, said if the ban is introduced then the pressure on felling may decrease and the security of supply for other plants could improve.

"If there is more supply, the price could go down. But on the other hand, forestry issues have always been such an emotional subject, and perhaps with the reduction in felling, this will compensate and prices will actually remain the same," said Umbleja.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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