Environment

Over our 100-year history, production efficiency has increased and the environmental impact of oil shale energy production has significantly decreased.

Compared to 1990, CO2-emissions in 2015 have been reduced by 50%.

Actual CO2-emissions m tonnes

Sustainable use of resources

Owing to new technologies, we obtain more value from oil shale at a lower environmental impact than ever before.

The efficiency of our electricity production is constantly improving and we are also making use of oil shale gas or retort gas, a by-product of shale oil production. Such combined production is at the same time efficient and environmentally sustainable – we obtain over 80% of the energy contained in oil shale compared to the 40% that is obtained from direct burning.

In the newer units of the Narva power stations, we use biomass alongside oil shale to produce electricity. In the Auvere power plant, we can replace as much as 50% of oil shale with biomass. This way we use less oil shale to produce electricity and also generate less oil shale ash.

We use over 80% of the energy contained in oil shale.

Cleaned industrial landscapes

Recultivation

We strive to leave areas behind that are in order. Mined areas are recultivated, mainly by reforestation. We have planted 14,000 hectares of forest over the past half-century. Various plant and animal species are now inhabiting forests that used to be industrial areas.

Aidu rowing course

Besides restoring natural areas, we have cooperated with the local municipality to provide special value to the former Aidu opencast mine. We established the basis for a rowing course that will be the core of a future water sports facility. The course has filled with natural water and become home to fish.

Reduced air emissions

Sulphur and nitrogen

The stricter environmental requirements of the European Union became fully applicable in Estonia from 1 January 2016. Eesti Energia has made considerable efforts and investments over many years in order to meet these requirements. Therefore, we can continue to produce electricity in the same amounts as before and using our existing equipment, only more safely for the environment.

One of our major achievements over the past five years is the desulphurisation and denitrofication systems that were added to the older energy production units of the Narva power plants that use pulverised combustion technology, owing to which the sulphur and nitrogen emissions have decreased by three and almost two times, respectively.

Greenhouse gases

The European Union climate package obliges member states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 to 2030. Estonia has already exceeded this target.

The Eesti Energia production units generate nearly two times less carbon dioxide than they did in 1990. This is due to output cuts and also the combined production of shale oil and electricity.

Water circulation

Mining water

The water pumped out of oil shale mines to keep them dry is treated in sediment pools and discharged back into natural water bodies. Nearly 80% and 50% of the water pumped out of opencast and underground mines, respectively, is rainwater. The rest comes from groundwater and the nearby closed-down mines.

Cooling water

The cooling water used in the Narva power plants comes from and is discharged into the Narva water reservoir. The Environmental Agency of the Ministry of the Environment does not count the cooling water of the Narva power plants when calculating the annual amount of water drawn from water bodies.

Electricity and heat from waste

In the waste-to-energy unit of the Iru power plant, we re-use up to 250,000 tonnes of mixed municipal waste every year, which would otherwise be disposed in landfills for years. Waste-to-energy production allows us to save about 70 million m3 of natural gas per year.

More re-use

We use the waste rock removed from oil shale upon mining and the oil shale ash left over from electricity production as valuable raw materials. This helps to save other non-renewable resources such as sand and gypsum.

We use waste rock to produce crushed stone, which can be used in construction. Because of its sulphur binding capacity, we use crushed waste rock also for reducing sulphur dioxide emissions in the pulverised firing boilers of the Narva power plants.

The ash generated in energy production from oil shale is used, for example, in construction, road construction and agriculture.

Environmental principles and reports

The systematic environmental activities of Eesti Energia are based on uniform principles constituting the common environmental policy of the group.

  • We use an environmental management system that conforms to the international standards ISO 14001 and EMAS.
  • We comply with all the applicable Estonian, European Union and international environmental legislation, conventions and agreements.
  • We conduct ex-ante analyses of the environmental impacts of our operations and reduce these impacts via technological solutions and innovation, as well as by improving efficiency and re-using materials.
  • We reduce the CO2-intensity of the energy supplied to our customers. To that end, we diversify our production portfolio and employ renewable sources of energy using the best possible technology to an extent permissible technologically and economically.
  • We are open to new solutions and cooperate with Estonian and international research institutions and consultation companies in order to achieve our environmental targets.
  • In procurement procedures, other conditions being equal, we prefer suppliers with certified environmental management systems that use environmentally sustainable technologies and materials.

Since 2015 we have been publishing information about our environment protection activities in the Corporate Social Responsibility Report and the Annual Report.