Eesti Energia invested 11 million euros in research and development last year to achieve carbon neutrality
Last year, Eesti Energia invested €11 million in research and development activities in order to develop solutions to reduce the environmental footprint of its production and to provide customers with smarter and more beneficial services.
Eesti Energia has set itself a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. One step to this end is to transform the current liquid fuel industry in Ida-Virumaa into an emission-free and circular economy-based chemical industry.
To achieve these goals, they are exploring with researchers how to capture and efficiently use the CO2 created in production, use waste plastics that have been incinerated or landfilled so far for the production of liquid fuels, and upgrade the quality of their existing products to meet the high standards of the chemical industry.
According to Margus Vals, Member of the Management Board of Eesti Energia, cooperation with world-class specialists enables the implementation of the company's strategic goals on their journey to carbon neutrality. Innovation clearly benefits in commercial terms as well. More than 90% of the money invested in research and development last year remained in Estonia.
“Each Eesti Energia’s research and development project is unique in the world in one way or another, creating knowledge and skills that can reduce the environmental footprint of ourselves and our customers through smart and innovative solutions,” Vals said. “For example, we have developed a unique solution for recycling plastic waste and stabilizing the power network with renewable energy assets, among other things. It is important to note that virtually all our collaborative projects involve local research institutions, which means that we not only create this wisdom for ourselves, but support the development of our universities and researchers as well.”
Eesti Energia works closely with local universities. First of all with Tallinn University of Technology, but also with the University of Tartu and the Estonian University of Life Sciences. In addition, the company cooperates in research and development with major international companies.
According to Sven Illing, Vice-Rector for Entrepreneurship at Tallinn University of Technology, Eesti Energia has been their long-term strategic partner. “In the last five years alone, 66 research and development agreements have been concluded with the companies of the corporate group, 12 of them last year,” Illing noted. “In multidisciplinary cooperation, we analyze, test and develop innovative solutions that help achieve both Eesti Energia's and Estonia's ambitious strategic environmental and energy security goals.”
Illing added that it was no less important to cooperate in promoting engineering education in society, but also in creating curricula and subjects to be used both to prepare future employees and to retrain them. Internship opportunities for students in the group companies of Eesti Energia are important for students.
“As a research institution, we have focused on applied research and fulfilling the role of a research partner,” said Kalle Pirk, Head of the Oil Shale Competence Centre of TalTech Virumaa College. In his view, the implementation of pyrolysis technology is one of the most valuable investments in terms of recycling plastic waste.
New applications are also being sought for their existing production capacities. For example, the company’s Auvere Power Plant and wind farms are connected through a virtual power plant platform into a fast-reacting energy reserve that can support energy security and security of supply. In this way, Auvere Power Plant provides the Finnish electricity market with an automatic frequency reserve service. Efforts are being made to make energy consumption and production more flexible by connecting assets at customers’ disposal to the virtual power plant and thus to the flexibility markets. The work to increase the reliability of existing wind farms and to build the network of the future is significant.
Eesti Energia's most important partners in the field of research and development cooperation last year were TalTech and its Virumaa College, the University of Tartu and the Estonian University of Life Sciences, as well as major international corporations in various fields such as energy technologies, renewable energy and petrochemicals.
Eesti Energia is a member of several associations representing innovation, such as the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, the Estonian Circular Economy Industries Association, the 2% club of innovation-intensive enterprises of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, the Innovation Leaders Club, and the Estonian Plastics Association. Estonia participates in several international research and development projects where the focus is on innovative solutions for charging electric cars and renovating apartment buildings.