Estonia has abundant biomass resources and only a small part has been exploited so far. Forests cover about 48 percent of Estonia's land area. In 1997 the wood-fuel production was about 3.7 Mm3 where wood residues and chips formed 34 percent. In the 1997 Estonian Energy Balance, wood-fuels covered 10 percent of the primary energy consumption (its energy sector is highly dependent on fossil fuels) and their production is steadily increasing. Estonian Statistical Office shows that woodfuels consumption in 1997 is 9 percent more than 1996.
Wood is used mainly for heating purposes in households and for heat production in boiler plants. In 1996 the Estonian Forest Survey Centre carried out an analyses on forest resources and possibilities of wood utilisation. According to their calculations, the maximum allowable level of cuttings of Estonia forests is 7.8 Mm3. The volume of fuel wood could be 1.8 - 2.0 Mm3 if the yield of fuel wood from final felling is 20 percent and 30-35 percent from thinning. Volume of fuel wood from forest residues (tops and branches) could be 1.95-2.3 Mm3. Potential for SRF is estimated at 0.1 million ha.A. INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS
A.1. POLICIES, STRATEGIES AND PROJECTS
One of the main targets of the Estonian energy policy is to promote bioenergy and to reach a competitive price level independently of political development. A strategy to promote the use of Estonian biomass resources (mainly wood and peat), especially in CHP generation is needed. Also energy conservation has a high priority in Estonian energy policy, as a matter of fact it has been estimated that even 30-35% of Estonian energy consumption could potentially be solved. This is also one of the most important action to solve the country's environmental problems.
The Estonian Parliament in February 1998 adopted the long-term National Development Plan for the Fuel and Energy Sector. The Plan will forecast development of the fuel and energy sector by the year 2005. Among the strategic goals taken into account in developing the energy policy for Estonia mentioned were:
- Providing a stable and independent fuel and energy supply;
- Promoting a wider use of RE by applying tax allowances both on the investments and energy production based on those investments;
- Providing integration of the Estonian energy sector to the European energy systems in conformity with the EU directives and trends.
A.2. - THE ROLE OF TECHNICAL AGENCIES
One problem is that there are so many unions and associations within this area that it is difficult to know who is responsible for what.
· Estonian Biofuel Association (EBA) is a non-profit association recently founded (May 1998). Fields of activity are biofuel research, developing and evaluating environmental projects using biofuels and energy saving techniques. It performs co-operation and different forms of information dissemination in Estonia and abroad. The members are energy consultants, scientists, fuel suppliers, companies, technology suppliers, and energy service companies.
· AS ESTIVO provides engineering and consulting services in the energy fields. It deals with energy development and master plans, energy conservation studies with economical analysis and technical measurement.B. LEGAL ASPECTS
No national funds have yet been assigned to support investments on biomass system. An increasingly large proportion of EU funds is now used also in programmes in Central and Eastern Europe.
In a longer term, raising wood felling to the maximum allowable level can double the production of wood fuel. An interesting resource is also the SRF. The annual potential of straw is low compared to wood but it offers an environmentally sound heat production alternative for rural areas.
Pre-feasibility studies should be made carefully. Staff training in the use of solid fuel fired plant is very important. The whole chain from pre-feasibility studies to boiler investments and staff training requires quite an amount of capital. Also due to required fuel storage and supply system, the cost of the biofuel-fired plant is higher compared to a traditional one. So, the main barrier for a wider use of biomass in this country is the lack of capital for financing biomass projects.