Elektrilevi to invest millions in island power lines

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

Elektrilevi intends to double investments in Estonia's electricity networks to €1 billion over the next five years. Also the state will invest about €10 million over the next few years to make the electricity infrastructures of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu islands more weather resilient.

Last year's winter snowstorm in Saaremaa opened the eyes of many to the deplorable condition of power lines in Estonian forests. Elektrilevi is now working on 160 kilometers of overgrown lines on the island.

The corporation is investing €4 million in Saaremaa to weatherproof the electricity infrastructure, while the state has already allocated over €10 million to the islands.

"The decision, in this case €13 million, is still in effect, and this money should be used as quickly as possible to make infrastructure on the islands much more climate resilient," Rein Vaks, head of the energy department at the Ministry of Climate, said.

More than 200 kilometers of traditional bare cables in Saaremaa will be replaced with weatherproof aerial cables or underground cables during the next two years.

The settlements of Valjala, Kihelkonna and Kärla, for example, will soon have completely weatherproof power.

"After the storm, a special emphasis has been placed on locations where we may not be able to invest within the next five years, but where there are bare land lines and narrow corridors. Then, we want to start widening those corridors," Rasmus Armas, asset manager at Elektrilevi, said.

In addition to new submarine cables, Elektrilevi wants to create new consumption capacity in Hiiumaa as well, through innovation, namely by beginning to store energy on the island and feed it into the grid at peak consumption times.

"We have divided the procurement in two parts, one is for managing consumption or generation, so not for installing extra batteries but for bringing more flexibility in through managing existing customers. And the other, bigger part is then for storage facility," Armas said.

"This is the first time we are trying to implement this by ourselves, through such a procurement and we have a clear goal to understand what is possible here, what companies are offering on the market and how it could all work," he added.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Kristina Kersa

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