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Estlink 2 Estonia-Finland electricity cable suffers outage

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Cross sectional representation of the Estlink 2 cable.
Cross sectional representation of the Estlink 2 cable. Source: Ain Köster/Elering

An outage in the EstLink 2 undersea electricity cable between Estonia and Finland was detected overnight from Thursday to Friday. It is not yet known what caused the fault, but there is no threat to electricity supply, Elering said, although prices are expected to rise.

Estonia and Finland's transmission system operators are investigating the causes of the failure.

Erkki Sapp, a board member of the Estonian transmission system operator Elering, told ERR it is too early to say what caused the failure and that no option can be ruled out. 

It is also not known whether the fault is on land, in converter stations, land or sea cables.

The capacity of Estlink 2 is 650 megawatts, and potentially this amount of electricity will not reach the country. But Sapp said this does not pose a risk to Estonia's electricity supply.

"Estonia has sufficient generation capacity to replace the electricity imported via Estlink 2. And similarly, there is overcapacity and out-of-market capacity in our neighbors Latvia and Lithuania. So we do not see any risk to the security of supply at the moment.," he said, adding that another Finnish connection, Estlink 1, is working as normal.

Erkki Sapp Source: ERR

It is difficult to say what the exact impact on electricity prices will be, Sapp said.

"But it will certainly have an impact on electricity prices, as we can generally import less of the cheaper Nordic electricity during the outage period. Therefore, more local generation, which is currently not available on the market, will have to be used, which is somewhat more expensive," said Sapp.

Wind farms' production was practically zero at midday on Friday in Estonia, which means that more oil shale electricity will enter the market.

The EstLink 2 infrastructure consists of converter stations in Estonia and Finland and a direct current, submarine line over 147 kilometers in length, plus 12 kilometers on land in Estonia, and 14 kilometers as overhead cables in Finland.

It was opened 10 years ago, complementing the Estlink 1 cable, which entered service in 2006. An Estlink 3 cable is expected to be ready in 2035.

Eesti Energia: Electricity prices will rise on Saturday

Eesti Energia's leading energy trade portfolio manager Silver Kera told ERR the failure of Estlink 2 will increase the price of Estonian electricity on Saturday.

Power line mast. Photo is illustrative. Autor/allikas: Ken Mürk/ERR

"We continue to import a lot of electricity from Finland, which is cheaper than the production costs of the Baltic fossil plants. Estlink 2 will allow 650 MW to be imported to Estonia, which is about 50 percent of the electricity consumed in Estonia on January weekends and about 20 percent of the total electricity consumed in the Baltic States," he said.

The increase in electricity prices will be slightly mitigated as less electricity is consumed on weekends.

"So this means there is less need to run increasingly expensive stations. In terms of wind production, Saturday will see less than average production in the middle of the day, but we expect a significant increase in wind power on Saturday-Sunday night. The situation will become more critical if the failure should continue during the working week and the cold does not recede," stated Kera.

Prices have varied during previous Estlink 2 faults from increases of a few percent to several hundred percent.

While Eesti Energia's newest power plant Auvere is currently operational, it will not cover the whole deficit.

"Estonia's consumption is significantly higher than Auvere's production capacity. In other words, a single generating capacity, including a modern one such as Auvere, does not regulate the price of electricity. Enefit Power has all its power plants ready to go to market if the need arises," he said.

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Editor: Indrek Kiisler, Huko Aaspollu, Marko Tooming, Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright

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