Estonia Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

In northeastern Estonia there is one of the world’s largest recoverable oil shale stocks. It is used partly to power electric and thermal power plants and partly to extract oil and gas. Estonia also has Europe’s largest deposits of phosphorite, a feedstock for fertilizers and other chemical products.

The oil shale accounts for about 90 percent of Estonia’s electricity supply and has made the country almost independent of Russian energy, unlike the Baltic neighboring countries. However, some Russian natural gas is still being imported.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Estonia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

Estonia, like Lithuania and Latvia, aims to be fully integrated into the European energy network from 2025 and then have completely detached from the dependence on Russian energy.

In Narva are some of the world’s largest power plants that extract electricity from oil shale. The raw material is cheap but environmentally hazardous. A new power plant from 2015 can also be fired with biomass.

Estonia has two power cables running under the Gulf of Finland to Finland. They enable import and export of electricity between the Baltic States and four countries in the Nordic countries. Estonia’s independence from electricity and energy imports from Russia has been a high priority.

  • Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, EE stands for Estonia. Visit itypeusa for more information about Estonia.

The electricity market was deregulated in 2013 with increased electricity prices as a result of long-term government subsidies to the oil shale industry. Later, however, electricity prices have fallen again.

Estonia has been one of Europe’s worst air pollutants per capita, as the oil shale causes large emissions of carbon dioxide. High chimneys in Narva have spread the pollution far, including to the lake area in southeastern Finland. The new power plant from 2015 has stringent environmental requirements, but about 90 percent of environmentally hazardous emissions in Estonia still come from the extraction of oil shale. The mine southwest of Narva is the world’s largest of its kind. Large areas of land are destroyed, the mines spread for millions and the waste of ash, slag and slate has grown into mountains.

About one-seventh of the electricity is extracted from renewable energy sources, mainly biomass and wind power. Solar power is under development.

Since 2013, Tallinn has provided free public transport for local residents to limit motorism and carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmental degradation was a decisive factor when the Estonians began the struggle against the Soviet regime in the late 1980s. At that time, the drinking water was threatened by the oil shale mines, poor wastewater treatment, large quantities of fertilizers and aviation fuel dumped at the military bases. The clean-up of the environment following the presence of the Soviet troops in Estonia has been costly.

In Sillamäe outside Narva in the northeast, the Soviet Union enriched uranium used in nuclear weapons production. Large quantities of radioactive waste were dumped near the Gulf of Finland and a complicated clean-up work was carried out with, among other things, Nordic aid. Sillamäe is now a leading processor of rare earth metals such as tantalum and niobium.

At the former Soviet submarine base Paldiski on the Baltic Sea, two obsolete nuclear reactors have been discontinued and a large part of Estonia’s wind power is being produced outside Paldiski.


Energy use per person

4,176 kilos of oil equivalents (2015)

Electricity consumption per person

6732 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

19 519 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

14.8 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

27.5 percent (2015)



Ansip beats the record

When Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker leaves office after nearly 19 years, Estonia’s Andrus Ansip becomes the incumbent Prime Minister of Europe who held his office for the longest time, for just over eight and a half years since April 2005.


The center party is strengthened in local elections

Opposition leader Edgar Savisaar’s Center Party is successful in the local elections, while Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s Reform Party is falling behind. The center strengthens its own majority in Tallinn, where Savisaar is the mayor. The Reform Party’s Allied IRL is moving forward, and the Social Democrats are increasing their national vote from 7.5 to 12.5 percent.


No to the Gender Equality Commission

Parliament says no to a parliamentary commission on gender equality. The government then appoints a gender equality council with 22 members, who will lead the work on increasing gender equality in Estonia. In addition to leading politicians, the Vice-Chancellor of Tartu University will be included in the Council.


Former security police spies suspected

A former employee of the Estonian Security Police is arrested on suspicion of longstanding espionage for Russia. The arrested man worked for the Soviet security service KGB in Soviet times. He is later sentenced to 15 years in prison.


Scandals reduce the popularity of the ruling party

The ruling Liberal Reform Party receives weak support in public opinion after several scandals in the party. Ahead of this fall’s municipal elections, the left-wing Center Party is leading strongly in the capital Tallinn, with 46 percent ahead of the right-wing Alliance IRL 14 percent, the Reform Party 13 percent and the Social Democrats 9 percent.


Voting shakes the ruling party

The reform party is shaken by internal conflict with demands on the party leadership to redo an internal choice of party leadership, where voting fraud was discovered. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip declares that he does not intend to stand as party leader candidate again if the election is to be re-elected. The Right Alliance IRL threatens to leave the government because of the repeated scandals in the Reform Party.


Ex-minister is excluded from his party

The EU parliamentarian and former Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland are excluded from the ruling Reform Party, accused of being behind a tangle of voting fraud in an internal party. Ojuland denies the allegations and claims that the party leadership is trying to make henna a scapegoat.


Prime Minister receives criticism for statement in Ukraine

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip visits Ukraine and makes a disputed statement that Estonia and the EU’s relations with Ukraine must not be invested in “a single card, a single lady”, a reference to imprisoned opposition leader Julia Tymoshenko. Ansip receives criticism from several directions, and the chairman of the Estonian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee describes it as thoughtless, saying that it does not benefit Ukraine’s integration into Europe.


The liberalized electricity market raises costs

Estonia’s electricity market is deregulated, leading to increased costs for households after many years of cheap electricity prices thanks to government subsidies to the oil shale industry.

Free public transport for the Tallinn residents

Tallinn will be the first capital in Europe to introduce free public transport for local residents. According to the municipality, this is an environmental and welfare issue.

Estonia Energy and Environment Facts

About the author