Official: Estonia can cover electricity shortfall in event of Estlink outage

Estlink 1.
Estlink 1. Source: Elering

Estonia can guarantee the security of electricity supply even in the event of the two undersea electricity cables that run under the Gulf of Finland were to be severed for any reason, Timo Tatar, Deputy Undersecretary at the Ministry of Climate, told ERR on Wednesday.

This would, however, lead to electricity price hikes.

The recent incident where the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which also links Finland to Estonia, was intentionally damaged, leading to a leak of loss of pipeline pressure, has led to increased vigilance, Tatar said, adding that in any case, the domestic grid needs to be able to deal with outages on the Estlink 1 and/or Estlink 2 undersea electricity cables.

"This readiness exists in the Baltic states."

Estonia, together with Latvia and Lithuania, is ready to provide the necessary electricity, though this would have an inevitable effect on price, Tatar continued, adding that the question is rather the cost price for generation.

Last year's soaring natural gas prices accompanied rising electricity prices – in fact, these prices, as they related to power stations using natural gas, were higher than the theoretical rising prices in the event of an Estlink outage, Tatar said.

In addition, there is also the danger of being desynchronized from the Russian grid by Russia itself. While the three Baltic states aim to desynchronize from the Russian grid, and couple to the European grid, in early 2025, the preparedness is also already there for this happening within even hours.

The project has been underway, in conjunction with the European Commission and with Poland, for over a decade now, Tatar added.

"So we actually are ready for such risk scenarios due to the fact that we have thought about it before and acted on it," he said.

In the same way, preparedness is there for the eventuality of Russia cutting off the Narva reservoir from its side, which would lead to a falling water level and a lack of means to cool Eesti Energia's Narva power stations.

Even if multiple negative events were to occur at once, sufficient electricity could be generated.

A strategic reserve announced by Elering in a report late last year as being a requirement will be a reality by 2027; the required legislative bill will reach the government in draft form in the next few weeks, Tatar said.

The existing Eesti Energia-run oil shale burning plants (with around 1,000 MW capacity) remain in the plan even as power stations using other inputs are to be built, in part due to their running costs being lower.

At the same time, the costs of maintaining this reserve, even when uncompetitive so far as the general market goes in normal times, are passed on to the consumer.

"Ultimately, all the costs relating to maintaining the electricity system are, in one form or another, reflected on the electricity bill," Tatar said.

Renewables remain the focus, he added, with the 2030 renewable energy garget remaining intact; the state's role is to ensure the investment environment, Tatar added, rather than building plants themselves – this remains down to private sector market participants.

Since at some times, for example, during adverse weather conditions, renewables supply may not fully cover demand, quick start-up gas-run plants, or small nuclear reactors will make up the shortfall, Tatar said.

A government working party is to publish its report on small nuclear reactors at year-end, while political discussions will begin next year, Tatar said.

"There is a specific interested party that is ready to develop nuclear energy," he went on, adding that the same applies to gas-, including biomethane, powered plants


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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