Ministry looking at ways to streamline energy consumption in Estonia

EV charging station.
EV charging station. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications says it wants to address the issue of increasingly inefficient energy consumption in Estonia, but without boosting total consumption in the meantime.

Market players are however skeptical that this can be achieved, at least without an actual rise in consumption.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has forecast that Estonia's energy consumption will not rise until 2030. 

Speaking to ERR, one of the ministry's deputy undersecretaries, Timo Tatar, stressed the importance of distinguishing between total energy consumption and electricity consumption.

He said: "Whereas we currently consume an average of 8 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity per year, by 2030 the transmission systems manager, Elering, has estimated that electricity consumption will have risen to 9.5Twh. This represents around a 15 percent increase in electricity consumption within six to seven years."

At the same time, Tatar added, "We're actually wasting energy."

The aim is to increase the efficiency of energy consumption by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, Tatar went on, giving the example of a car with a large fuel tank of 100 liters, of which only 20 liters actually propels the vehicle along, with the remaining 80 liters evaporating into the air via heat exchange.

"Whereas if I had an e-vehicle with a 100 kWh battery, 90 kWh would move the car, and only 10 percent would the get wasted."

Market participants are skeptical of the forecast, however.

CEO of the Electrical Industry Association (Elektritööstuse liit) Tõnis Vare, said that whether we are speaking about electric cars or other newer, more efficient devices, consumers will purchase more and more of them in line with economic growth. 

In other words, each device may cost less on its own, but the total cost will still be higher.

Vare said: "In any case, energy consumption is increasing. I'm just giving an example at a global level. Almost two billion people still do not have a regular electricity connection, while on a global scale, energy consumption is definitely increasing and multiplying. If you are saying that Estonia is some kind of distinctive place with different laws and principles applying to it, well I don't believe that."

The forecast comes as part of the national energy and climate plan, or REKK, which is being updated. The forecast itself does not oblige to limit energy consumption in any way, which Vare said was one of the plan's advantages.

Timo Tatar added that the ministry's viewpoint is nothing new and is the continuation of a trend which has been going on for a decade or more, whereby the total output of the economy has grown significantly, but total energy consumption has not increased.

"This supports the hypothesis that we can maintain this trend line. We have become more efficient," he said.

Vare also said that the main goal is an increase in efficiency, though added that if the total energy consumption increases at the same time, then this is not a bad thing.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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