TALLINN – At Thursday's Cabinet meeting, members of the Estonian government endorsed a list of activities to facilitate and speed up the country's transition to the use of renewable energy, with the main focus on wind energy.
Besides, Estonia intends to speed up the projects already under development.
Estonia has set a goal to produce an amount of renewable electricity in 2030 that equals the country's total annual electricity consumption, the government's communications office said.
"The priority now is to get the current projects off the ground so that developments can start to rapidly supply green electricity to the grid. To this end, the procedures for setting up wind farms need to be significantly simplified and speeded up. After that we need to focus on longer-term solutions and identify the areas where wind farms can be developed more easily," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in a press release.
She noted that increasing the share of renewable energy is also important for bringing down electricity prices, as electricity produced from renewable sources is, and always will be, much cheaper than electricity produced from fossil fuels.
In order to reach the 100 percent renewable energy target in 2030, around 7 terawatt-hours of fossil fuel-based electricity has to be replaced by renewable energy sources in the Estonian electricity system. To achieve this, Estonia will need around one gigawatt of additional wind energy offshore and one gigawatt onshore. It also needs to continue the rapid development of both solar energy and its storage capacity.
Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman said that the main obstacle to investing in renewable energy is the long procedure.
"Wind turbines can never be deployed if the process, in its different stages, keeps dragging on, and such a situation is not satisfactory for the state, the developers of renewable energy parks or society as a whole. Therefore, we will amend the Planning Act so that wind farms can be planned faster," the minister said.
The government also wants to provide comprehensive support to municipalities.
"Today, more than half of our municipalities do not have the capacity for spatial planning for renewable energy. This is where we come to the rescue -- by creating a financial measure so that municipalities can hire competent specialists for planning wind farms or outsource the service," she said.
In addition, the state will support the completion of pending spatial plans.
"We will speed up the procedure, enhance cooperation with the state, and hire necessary people at the ministry to advise local governments and organize the preparation national spatial plans for wind farms," Solman added.
In August, under the guidance of the green policy coordinator at the Government Office, the spatial planning, environmental impact assessment and authorization process was audited to find ways to speed up the implementation of renewable energy projects.