The Estonian government on Thursday approved the drawing up of a bill that would allow oil shale to be partially replaced with biomass in the boilers of Narva power plants. The amendment is expected to take effect within a year.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said that the partial use of biomass will allow for the power plants' carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced by half, significantly increase the production of renewable energy in Estonia, as well as improve the competitiveness of the power plants on the electricity market.
"Replacing fossil fuels with biomass in existing power plants is the fastest way to increase the share of renewable energy in the country," Aas said in a press release. "It will also help to prevent other side effects caused by high carbon dioxide prices."
According to the minister, a more competitive price will help maintain jobs as well as the increased production capacity of Estonian state-owned energy group Eesti Energia.
"It is necessary for both Ida-Viru County and all of Estonia that the energy sector is strong and that good specialists find work there," he stressed.
As the next steps to aid Ida-Viru County, Aas highlighted a faster transition from oil shale electricity production to oil production, state support in the establishment of a refinery, and the goal to apply network tariffs to electricity from third countries alongside other Baltic countries.
The three newer energy production units of the Narva power plants are able to utilize up to 50 percent biomass and produce renewable energy. The partial use of biomass in fossil fuel-based power plants for the production of renewable energy is common in other EU member states as well. A large share of pellets exported from Estonia go to such power plants in Belgium and the U.K., for example.
The amendments to the Electricity Market Act are expected to enter into force within a year.
Editor: Aili Vahtla