Estonia wants to continue using biomethane in buses after 2030

Tallinn's new biomethane-powered buses.
Tallinn's new biomethane-powered buses. Source: Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS

Estonia plans to keep powering buses and heavy vehicles with biomethane after 2030, despite many other EU member states supporting a transition to electric.

The EU plans to cut trucks and buses emissions by 90 percent by 2040. Additionally, 100 percent of city buses must be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Liisa Pakosta, head of the Riigikogu's European Union Affairs Committee, said Estonia generally agrees with the block's climate goals, but it is still preferable to use biomethane in the transport sector after 2030. 

She said will still help the country meet its climate goals.

"And now Estonia is standing up in the EU in these negotiations to support and develop the production of biomethane in Estonia as a very environmentally friendly fuel, so that we can continue to have these buses and so that we can continue to use it in the transport sector. As far as biomethane is concerned, we very clearly want the European Union to take our position into account, and we believe that it will be successful," she explained.

But other member states support switching to electric buses. ERR asked the Ministry of the Environment if Estonia stands alone on this matter.

Silver Sillak, adviser to the Ministry of the Environment's climate department, said negotiations have only just started but biomethane is a niche product in the EU. Estonia uses it more than most with other countries preferring to buy diesel or electric buses.

"It may well be that Estonia is a bit on its own here," he said.

Kaido Padari, head of Tallinn Transport, (TLT) said the share of biomethane in Tallinn's city buses is currently 39 percent. He said TLT wants to increase its share over the coming year.

"In fact, this kind of entrepreneurship is taking on a new form, with more and more, as they say, domestic gas being produced. By the autumn, biomethane could be around 60 percent and by the summer of next year it could be 100 percent. So the 350 buses that are on Tallinn's roads would use 100 percent biogas," said Padar.

What will happen to electric buses in Estonia? Sillak said it is only a matter of time before they are introduced, and in the future, both types will be seen more frequently on the streets.

"We have created the first rounds of grants through the Environmental Investment Center, through which local government can buy electric buses, and I'm sure they'll start to appear very soon because the technology is quite ready. Other countries are already doing it very actively," he said.

Biomethane is the purified form of raw biogas and can be used as a natural gas substitute, according to the European Commission. It is a renewable fuel generated by anaerobic decomposition.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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