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Ivar Kruusenberg: Power outages will only become more frequent in the future

Ivar Kruusenberg.
Ivar Kruusenberg. Source: Private collection

Estonia's social structure does not favor effective distribution of energy consumption, and there will rather be more power outages in the future, Ivar Kruusenberg writes.

It is clear that we will see more power outages in the future. Not only because of storms but also aggressive electrification. This will be caused by the growing demand for electric cars on the one hand. Data from the Estonian Association of Vehicle Dealers and Services (AMTEL) suggests sale of EVs was up 79 percent on year over the first six months of the year, while the EU climate measures package suggests this trend will only continue.

People also have an increasing number of electrical appliances at home. Existing substations and power lines will not be able to bear the load, especially as people tend to use electricity at the same times. Estonia's social structure does not favor effective distribution of consumption, whether we're talking about charging EVs or air conditioning systems working at full power.

All of it will lead to even more power failures in the future, even if our substations and power lines meet modern standards.

That is why people need to look to their own security of supply. There are many backup power options, such as battery banks, diesel or hydrogen generators, available.

Hybrid solutions where a battery and hydrogen generator work hand in hand have proven effective, ensuring double security and energy capability that households need. Such hybrid solutions are also a good fit for apartment buildings as they do not require reconstruction, unlike diesel generators.

Unfortunately, residents of apartment buildings are worst affected as they lose both heating and water in case of a prolonged power outage. Luckily, Estonia has the capacity to produce hydrogen, for which the government will allocate €40.5 million through its green hydrogen measure. Hydrogen could be a preferred power source also in terms of national security, as it is almost the only fuel we can produce ourselves, should we be cut off from diesel or natural gas.

If there is no rapid and good solution for grid reconstruction, the government should come to the aid of companies and private consumers to ensure security of supply during power failures. We could benefit from a scheme that would make backup energy solutions more easily accessible for people and companies in critical areas.

People living in rural areas are more vulnerable, losing not only food when their freezers melt but also being cut off from cellular coverage at times. While emergency calls are facilitated by other telecoms' networks, it is little use when one's phone battery runs out and cannot be topped up. Who should ensure availability of vital services during power outages if not the state?

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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