Solar park created on oil shale mining waste platform in Ida-Virumaa

Enefit Green Is building a unique solar park In Estonia mine’s industrial area.a
Enefit Green Is building a unique solar park In Estonia mine’s industrial area.a Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Enefit Green starts building a solar park in the industrial area of the Estonia Mine in Ida-Virumaa. The solar park with a capacity of nearly 3 megawatts is the first in Estonia to be located on a platform built from waste rock, to ensure that once oil shale production ceases, the area will not resemble abandoned wasteland.

In about 10 to 15 years, the Estonia oil shale mine, which covers an area comparable to Tallinn, will close. This winter, the first of the mine's renewable energy facilities will be constructed: a solar park on a platform of waste rock.

Essentially, a 27-meter-tall platform was built for the solar park using waste rock generated during oil shale extraction. Elise Johanna Lill, the renewable energy project manager at Enefit Green, explained that the initiative "offers the opportunity to use waste rock generated during mining as construction material and to supply the mine with green energy." Moreover, the platform itself ensures that the solar park's area is shadow-free and that low-value land is put to good use.

Lill said that Enefit Green has never built on such a platform before. "Regarding technology, we use double-sided solar panels, which make sense here because they generate energy on both sides; in this case, this is effective because the lighter surface of the rock reflects more light than usual darker surfaces. So the amount of electricity generated increases."

The park is scheduled to begin production in early 2024.

Andres Vainola, chairman of the board of Enefit Power, said that the construction of a solar park on the company's land is a watershed moment for the business, which extracts oil shale and produces oil and electricity from it.

"We are planning to continue to produce electricity using less and less oil shale, chemicals and liquid fuels. It is a transition from the energy industry of today to the industry of the future. This industrial park, where we are developing solar energy production with Enefit Green is an excellent example of how we intend to cooperate and move forward," Vainola said.

Alongside the extraction of oil shale and the development of green energy infrastructure, efforts are being made to make greater use of the waste material extracted alongside oil shale.

"Once the mine is depleted, solar parks and a pumped hydroelectric power facility will be built here. As part of a circular economy, we will certainly use mine waste material for their construction," he said.

Oil shale has been extracted from the Estonia mine since 1972.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Kristina Kersa

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