The warmest year in history calls for faster decarbonisation of the energy sector

In 2020, the Utilitas Energy Group generated 75% of thermal and electrical energy from renewable sources. The production of green energy increased by 13% compared to 2019 thanks to new generation capacities of renewable energy. Using renewable energy sources and a more efficient energy production enables Utilitas to restrict carbon dioxide emission.

In 2020, the clients of the urban energy generating company Utilitas consumed 1,806,000 MWh of thermal energy, which is 5% less compared to the previous year, despite an increased number of clients. Consumption was to some extent affected by a decrease of consumption in hotels and other public establishments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but energy consumption is increasingly affected by warm weather. While 2019 was extraordinarily hot, 2020 has been the warmest in Estonian climate history: January and February were record-breaking warm, November was the warmest in all of Estonian climate history, and December was one of the warmest since 1961.

‘Five years ago, at the Paris Climate Change Conference, 195 countries agreed on the measures that must be applied to stop climate warming. The European Union has led the fight by establishing clear and ambitious environmental objectives. Energy stands at the heart of those plans. We must continuously evolve in the energy sector: we must apply renewable and fuel free energy solutions and increase the efficiency of production to decarbonise the sector entirely,’ said Priit Koit, head of the Utilitas Group.

‘As the largest renewable energy producer in Estonia, Utilitas contributes into stopping climate warming. Over the last seven years, we have actively worked towards becoming more environmental-friendly by replacing fossil fuels with biomass, establishing cogeneration plants and solar parks, and developing the capabilities for harnessing wind energy; we have also set an objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030,’ Koit explained.

Photo: Utilitas’ biomass CHP and solar power plant in Tallinn

Last year, 84 new buildings joined the Utilitas district heating networks, with a total capacity of 33 MW. Of those 84 buildings, 25 switched to alternative heating solutions and 59 were newly constructed. As at the end of last year, Utilitas provided district heating for 4,970 buildings, including 174,000 households.

While in 2020, Utilitas invested nearly 30 million euros in maintaining the efficiency of energy production and environmental friendliness, which included the maintenance and construction of networks, then in 2021, our investments will amount to over 50 million euros. In 2020, a total of 26 kilometres of pipelines were renovated and constructed, but the plan for 2021 is to build and renew 30 kilometres of infrastructure. ‘The keywords for 2021 are security of supply, energy storage, and district cooling. We are exploring the possibilities of hydrogen production and will connect Ülemiste City and the city centre to our district cooling infrastructure. We would also like to move forward with the six offshore wind farms that are planned to be established in the Baltic Sea, for which we have already submitted applications for building permits to the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority,’ said Priit Koit, head of the Utilitas Group.