Published on April 21, 2021

A vision for the future of Estonia’s energy system – renewable & sustainable sources, decentralisation and communities

By Madis Vasser

Together with a group of other environmental groups in the country, Bankwatch member group Estonian Green Movement (EGM) has published an Energy Vision for Estonia, setting out the goals and solutions towards which the country must strive over the next 15 years and beyond. The vision is based on the latest scientific knowledge and the experience of other countries. 

Published on February 3rd 2021, the Energy Vision focuses on decentralised wind and solar energy production and smart energy storage solutions. In addition to technological solutions, much more needs to be done to involve communities and to save energy in every aspect of ​life.

The environmental associations responsible for drafting the vision [1] exclude oil shale and unsustainable biomass from the list of future energy sources, as well as carbon capture technologies and nuclear energy, as the time-critical nature of the climate crisis makes it mandatory to focus on existing solutions. The transition to new solutions must be just and gradual.

Many of the energy technologies needed for the green transition have been around for a long time and their widespread use would bring us cheaper electricity, cleaner air and new high-paying jobs. At the same time, the focus cannot be on technological solutions alone, as the transition is hampered by the insufficient involvement of citizens and local communities, as well as a growing gap between the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of the transition.

The government should use the decentralised nature of renewable energy as an opportunity to democratise the energy sector and thus accelerate the green transition.

The Estonian energy debate needs a serious reality check and the Energy Vision provides this opportunity. Policy-makers are trying to solve an essentially impossible task: to cope with increasing energy consumption while making the sector more sustainable and decentralised.

Until we dare to discuss a reduction in production and consumption, an enormous amount of time and money will continue to be wasted on technological illusions such as carbon capture or an experimental nuclear power plant.

Based on the most up-to-date research of recent years, the Energy Vision points out that a realistic green transition is only possible with community-based renewable energy and proposes how this community engagement process could look like.

The main goal of the Energy Vision is to help ensure that future energy policies in Estonia are based on the latest knowledge and include wise and sustainable choices.

[1] The creation of the Energy Vision was led by the Estonian Green Movement with the help of the Estonian Fund for Nature, the Environmental Law Center, the Baltic Environmental Forum, the Tartu Student Nature Conservation Association, the Estonian Ornithological Society, the Heritage Conservation Association, the Estonian Student Environmental Protection Association Sorex, MTÜ Nõmme Tee Selts and Läänerannik.

Photo showing windmills in Paldiski, Estonia, courtesy of Flickr user NefcoNordic.