The Estonian Island Archipelago is composed of 6 islands with a total population of 44 317 inhabitants. With significant off-shore wind potential and plans to decarbonise ferries and transport with clean hydrogen, they are in a unique position to act as leaders for Estonia’s Energy Transition.
Yet, the Islands also face several challenges: limitations of the current grid infrastructure stalling PV installations, limited technical capacity within the municipalities to generate and deliver projects of scale, etc.
A solution identified to support the Estonian Islands on their decarbonisation pathway is the creation of a Regional Energy Agency. By mobilising support via EU and National funds, such an Agency could speed up delivery and take a leading role in transforming the energy profile across the islands. That was the focus of the ManagEnergy Expert Mission which took place on 6-8 September on the 2 biggest islands of the archipelago: Hiiumaa (9557 inhabitants) and Saaremaa (31436 inhabitants).
The Expert Mission was led by Seamus Hoyne, ManagEnergy Coordinator and Dean of Flexible and Work Place Learning at the Technological University of the Shannon (IE). Meetings were held with Municipalities of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa to outline the role of Energy Agencies, their structures and approaches based on Hoyne’s experiences.
Day 2 of the Mission included a workshop with the Mayor, Vice Mayors and senior executives from Saaremaa island where in-depth discussions were held on energy agencies as well as technical topics such as building retrofitting, decarbonisation of transport and engagement with SMEs. This also involved a presentation to a wider network of stakeholders including renewable energy project developers, local enterprise support offices and researchers.
Additional meetings were held with other key stakeholders on the islands including local enterpreneurs, industry stakeholders, renewable energy project developers, consultants, TalTech University, a local energy company, business support organisation, and a community energy association. Topics of these meetings varied from waste heat to hydrogen development including energy communities, communications and bioeconomy.
The ManagEnergy Expert Mission carried out be outstanding energy and community engagement expert Seamus Hoyne was perfectly timed for the Western Estonian archipelago. We received valuable advice for the energy projects necessary to strengthen the economic development of our region, as well as strong input for the financing of the energy agency. Seamus helped prioritize projects and demonstrate the agency’s model of sustainable operation.Sulev Alajõe- Estonian Islands’ Energy Consultant
The concept of an Energy Agency resonated strongly with all the stakeholders who were engaged during the 3 days. It can play a key role in coordinating and communicating the current and future actions across the islands while also supporting Municipalities, enterprise and industry drive investment.