Estonian homeowners and businesses made a bold step forward in the field of solar energy in 2020 with energy group Eesti Energia alone establishing close to 300 solar power plants for its clients with a total capacity of eight megawatts (MW).
“Many private clients and smaller companies, who previously took a cautious attitude towards solar energy, have received reassurance and motivation from the national measures to reduce their environmental footprint and become a producer of renewable energy instead of being a consumer of electric energy,” said Enefit Green CEO Aavo Kärmas.
Enefit Green, the renewable energy arm of Eesti Energia, built altogether 285 solar power plants for clients of Eesti Energia in Estonia and 100 in Latvia during the year. The biggest of the projects was a solar park of 348 kilowatts (kW) and the smallest a generating facility with a capacity of 3.8 kW. Half of the solar plants were built on the ground and half on the roofs of buildings.
For those producing solar energy on their own the amount of electricity bought from the grid will be smaller, which also means smaller amounts paid in network fees and state taxes. Producers of solar energy can earn money by selling the surplus to the grid.
At this point, 2,500 clients are selling electric energy generated in their home or at their business to Eesti Energia as small energy producers. Corporate clients can choose whether to invest in a solar power plant themselves and become an electricity producer or leave the investment to be made and the equipment to be taken care of by Eesti Energia and get the price of electricity fixed for them at a favourable level for up to 25 years.
“Looking forward on 2021, we can say that people’s trust in solar energy has been affirmed,” said Mr Kärmas adding that ever more customers are interested in autonomous solutions, which means that also the offering of the energy storage service has great potential.
Contrary to the widespread belief, Estonia is an altogether good place to produce solar energy. In summer, the period of daylight starts earlier and ends later in Estonia than in Central Europe. In winter, when the sun is lower here, the amount produced is smaller, but not non-existent.
“This coming summer, when consumption is small, we may witness a situation where wind farms and solar parks meet the lion’s share of Estonia’s demand for electricity,” added Mr Kärmas, “We have plenty of sun in our region. Enefit Green’s own solar parks generated 25 gigawatt-hours of electricity last year, which covers the annual consumption needs of 8,300 Estonian households.”