2020.05.08 15:14

Estonia will not buy electricity from Russia, president says

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2020.05.08 15:14

Estonia does not intend to buy electricity directly from Russia, said the country's President Kersti Kaljulaid. Estonia will also seek consensus among EU member states for a pollution tax on Russian electricity entering the single market.

“What concerns energy, Estonia is not buying electricity from Russia through any of our nine connections to Russia,” the Estonian president told BNS in an interview.

Read more: Latvia 'discussing' Lithuania's call to bar Belarus' nuclear energy

“Estonia is buying electricity from Nord Pool. And we know that there is indeed Russian electricity on Nord Pool, too, and most of it comes to the Nord Pool market through Finland, some of it through Lithuania itself,” she said.

Once the Baltic countries disconnect from the post-Soviet BRELL ring, which also includes Russia and Belarus, and synchronise their power grids with the Continental European system, they will no longer receive electricity from Russia, Kaljulaid noted.

According to the president, Estonia supports the European Commission's initiatives to tax electricity imports from third countries in a bid to protect the single market from dumping.

“Now when we move away from the BRELL network, from the Russian electricity grid, to the Central European grid, nobody will invest into the back-to-back converters necessary to keep buying electricity from Russia,” since there will not be any economic rationale to do it, the president told BNS during a video call from Tallinn,

“So automatically, by having decided that we will move to the Central European electricity grid, we have taken the decision that the three Baltic states will not directly buy electricity from the Russian market. This is a long-time decision. We are moving ahead technically to implement this project.”

Quoting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Kaljulaid said that a CO2 tax would be added on energy entering the EU market in order to prevent dumping.

“[Von der Leyen] has been very clear: the CO2 price needs to be added on the border to import the electricity, otherwise, we cannot go green with our energy production and consumption.”

“And when this happens, there will be no problem of Russian energy dumping our European market. This is something which I think will be collectively achieved as the European Union. But individually, Estonia is not buying directly and is not planning to start buying electricity directly from Russia,” Kaljulaid insisted.

Electricity import from Russia is an important issue for Lithuania as it tries to block market access for energy produced at Belarus' Astravyets nuclear plant which Vilnius considers unsafe.

Earlier this week, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis repeated a call on Latvia and Estonia to sign a political declaration on restricting imports of unsafe and “dirty” electricity.

Read more: Lithuania urges Belarus to suspend launch of its nuclear plant

Riga has so far refused to sign the document. The Latvian government has decided to switch to electricity trade with Russia for technical and economic reasons once Lithuania halts imports from Belarus. This may open up access for Astravyets electricity to the common Baltic market via Russia.

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