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Solid Biomass in Estonia


The Estonian energy supply is mainly from the indigenous fossil fuel oil shale, a situation that only occurs in a few countries worldwide. Regarding renewables, the additional potential is mainly in biomass, biogas, wind power and small hydropower.

The Estonian energy policy is described in the Estonian Longterm Public Fuel and Energy Sector Development Plan and the Development Plan for Electricity Sector until 2015. According to these documents, the overall share of renewable electricity aimed at is 8% in 2015 and 10% in 2020. The following technology-specific targets are mentioned:




Wind  power






Other renewables  (landfill gas and hydropower)



According to the Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources the target for the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy in the year 2020 for Estonia is 25% (in the year 2005 the share was 18.0%). The Directive has a mandatory 10 % target for transport to be achieved by all Member States, which refers to renewable sources as a whole, not biofuels alone.

Renewable energy projections according to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan for Estonia
The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for Estonia was submitted in December 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 25% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year exactly matches the target.  According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (607 ktoe, 70% of all renewable energy). Second important contribution is expected from wind power (1.5 TWh or 132 ktoe, 15% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from biodiesel (renewable transport) (51 ktoe, 6% of all renewable energy). Wind power contributes with 0.7 GW (1.5 TWh) in the year 2020 (onshore wind 0.4 GW and 1.0 TWh, offshore wind 0.3 GW and 0.6 TWh). No solar PV nor solar thermal is projected for 2020. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 51 ktoe (biodiesel) and 38 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. For solid biomass and biogas no projections have been made in the Estonian Action Plan.

Renewable electricity and heat : solid biomass
Around 90% of the production of firewood and woodchips is used in households. In 2001, 34% of all types of wood fuel (7% of firewood, 65% of wood chips and wood waste) were used for heat production. Two companies are producing wood pellets with an annual output of 68,000 t, most of which are exported.

Regarding electricity generation from biomass, in Estonia a system is in place where the grid operator is obliged to buy the renewable power, and is also responsible for paying the fee (feed-in tariff or subsidy) to the RES-operator. The system was revised thoroughly in May 2007. In the new situation, the RES-E operator has the choice to sell its power to the grid operator at a fixed price (feed-in tariff of EEK 1.15 (approximately EUR 0.073) per kWh) or to apply for a subsidy (at an amount of EEK 0.84 (approximately EUR 0.053) per kWh) and to sell its power separately to a client. The schemes are constrained in time: they apply up to the year 2015. The feed-in tariffs and the subsidy tariffs are both set by the Electricity Market Act (EMA) and are to be approved by the Parliament of Estonia. For cogeneration (not from RES), slightly lower subsidies are available. The final consumers are charged and bear the costs of the system. 

Furthermore, Estonia receives financial means from the EU budget for Structural Funds, implemented through the Estonian National Development Plan (NDP). Reducing environmental impact of the energy sector, improving efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy are goals. For the period 2007 to 2013, the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) has been announced, which has a focus on investments for flexible (RES) cogeneration plants and grid connection infrastructure. Other investment subsidy schemes available to RES-E come from funds originating from other Western European countries: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

No tax incentives apply to RES-E. A system of green certificates is in operation on a voluntary basis as of 2001, introduced by Estonian Energy AS and the Estonian Fund for Nature. Also, environmental charges are collected, regulated by the Environmental Charges Act (ECA). This charge is applicable to production of electricity. Electricity from hydropower, wind, biomass and the use of waste are exempted from this tax. 

Future programme changes expected
An ecological tax reform was initiated in Estonia in 2005, and is to be carried out by 2013. In the energy sector, one of the priorities of ecological tax reform is to promote renewable energy and the production of RES-E in particular.

Imbi Jürgen, Tark & Co, Estonia, I.E.L.T.R. ISSUE 10, 2007

EurObserv’ER interactive database (version 2007)

Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources,

Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, (sourced September 2008)

EREC: Renewable energy policy review, Estonia, March 2009

The National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) are all published on the Transparency Platform on Renewable Energy: (sourced July - December 2010)

Renewable Energy Projections as Published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States, (sourced December 2010)

 Interactive EurObserv’ER Database
Last update: December 2010

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