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Parliamentary questions
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7 September 2020
Priority question for written answer P-004884/2020
to the Commission
Rule 138
Ville Niinistö (Verts/ALE), Michael Bloss (Verts/ALE), Henrike Hahn (Verts/ALE), Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE), Kira Marie Peter-Hansen (Verts/ALE), Monika Vana (Verts/ALE), Alviina Alametsä (Verts/ALE), Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE), Damien Carême (Verts/ALE), Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE), Pär Holmgren (Verts/ALE), Grace O'Sullivan (Verts/ALE), Alice Kuhnke (Verts/ALE), Jakop G. Dalunde (Verts/ALE)
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Subsidising Estonia's oil shale industry with co-firing biomass does not merit state aid

The Estonian Government is proposing to amend the Electricity Market Act to guarantee the approval of an auction scheme for renewable energy, in which practically only one state-owned company, Eesti Energia, will be eligible to co-fire wood with oil shale in its power plants. This goes against Article 4 of Directive (EU) 2018/2001 ('Renewable Energy Directive’) and the Guidelines on State Aid for environmental protection andeEnergy 2014-2020.

This proposed change is incompatible with EU State aid rules and objectives for the following reasons:

There are concerns regarding the effects had on the internal market and competitiveness, since support would be awarded without competitive auctioning in a manner that is not technology-neutral. The Estonian Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Taavi Aas, and the Explanatory Note to the proposal have both confirmed that the aim in using State aid for biomass co-firing would be to increase the profitability of the oil shale plants (i.e. to burn more fossil fuels).

No assessment has been made regarding the cost-effectiveness of this measure to reach the objective of common interest (i.e. the production of renewable energy and therefore the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions). The costs associated with both biomass and oil shale (i.e. GHG impacts, air pollution and the loss of biodiversity) have not been considered and can have long-term impacts on Estonia’s forests and carbon balance.

1. Will the Commission carry out an in-depth investigation before this State aid is approved so as to prevent any potential breaches to the State aid rules and objectives?


(1)This question is supported by a Member other than the authors: Jutta Paulus (Verts/ALE)
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