Estonian eco-innovation performance has increased steadily throughout 2013-2015. The highest development can be seen in the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard indexes for socio-economic outcomes and eco-innovation activities, which continuously perform above the EU average. Despite these positive trends, Estonia still scores below EU average overall, mostly due to resource-intensive industrial structure, lack of seed funding opportunities for early-stage start-ups and low level of media coverage on eco-innovation subjects.

While in general Estonia does not target eco-innovation in policy documents specifically, the smart specialisation strategy, together with the Estonian research, development and innovation (RD&I) Strategy 2014-2020 and Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020, aim to tackle the major barriers of the Estonian innovation system, which also hold back eco-innovation. The biggest potential for eco-innovation initiatives within the smart specialisation framework arises in the areas of ICT, as an enabler of eco-innovative ICT solutions, and the use of smart technologies for more efficient resource management in the building and energy sectors. The field has seen numerous eco-innovation solutions in the past few years, largely due to initiatives that have raised awareness and the financial support available for companies.

Despite the newness of the term circular economy, the most recent policy initiatives in the field, notably the Estonian National Waste Management Plan 2014-2020, have already adopted the underlying principles of circular economy – for example, aiming to reduce the amount of waste produced and recycling it to the maximum level.

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Estonia




Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through the Adoption of Renuable Biofuels in the Boiler House of OÜ Lihula Soojus

Estonia_GPE_LihulaThe idea of eco-innovation is the use of biomass instead of using traditional oil-shale based fuel for heating the local boiler house in order to deacrease the CO2 emissions.

Lihula is the small county on the west coast of Estonia having 2,582 inhabitants. Lihula Soojus is the district heating boiler house in Lihula supplying heating for the 14 buildings in the county - mainly pulic buildings and block houses. From the whole territory of the county 47% is under nature protection. Lihula county is surrounded with the national park Matsalu on the west side of the county. Matsalu is the important area for birds nesting and migration - every year 170 specises of different birds are nesting and 260 specises of birds in migration. The natural resources as hey, straw and reed from the national park is usually not used by people and is left for naturalise. Lihula Soojus decided to pick the reed up, package and transport to the boiler house and use for heating. In the result of several projects provided by Lihula Soojus, the new biomass boiler was installed in 2009. The same boiler can also be heated with wood, which is also natural resource widely spread in Estonia. For the most last alternative the old oil shale boiler was still left just in worse case. The biomass boiler idea was pretty new in Estonia at that time and gained quickly the popularity - no PR was needed as the interest from media was huge and several other biomass boiler houses has been installed by today all over Estonia. The first winter has shown that it is possible to survive with the biomass heating. The annual need for fuel in 2009 - 2011 was 1,000 tonnes hey and 200 tonnes of wood, no oil shale was used. The cost of the heating decrased by 5%. The cost of the  hey, reed or straw itself is not remarkable, the main cost arises from the transportation.  The eco-innovation efect here is the process modernisation with the use of alternative energy resources decreasing the CO2 emissions.     

Barriers and Drivers
Hence, the Lihula Soojus biomass boiler house basis on natural resources and could be largely used, it's uniqe as the biomass is not available everywhere at the demanded volume. The same kind of boiler house is probably not possbile to install with exactly the same tchnological solution. The raw material has to be dry and packaged in one specific size to get the maximum energetic efficiancy.
For this kind of investments the public support is crusial - for biomass boiler house in Lihula several support programmes were applied. Also good cooperation between promoter, local government and donors (representatives) has to be in place. The availability of local financing is also predetermined, as at least part of the investment has to be co-financed by local promoters.    

Economic Performance

The share of the fuel and transport budget of Lihua Soojus has decreased as well as the share of heating costs in the budget of county government is decreased. After the biomass boiler installation the Lihula county is less dependent from the global energy prices and is less harmful from the energy supply. Since 2009 the energy production from biofuel is 4.2 GWh/year, previously all the energy was produced from fossil fuel. The investment has also secured the stability in energy price for the end-consumers, which is very important for local people well being.

Social Performance

The reconstruction of old boiler house and installation of biomass boiler was provided in the cooperation with the Tallinn University of Technology - this is an excellent example of the collaboration of the academia and business. 

Envrionmental Impact

After the  installation of the biomass boiler the CO2 emissions were reduced from 1,350 t/year to 27 t/year. Also, cutting and gathering the reed, hey and straw the national park biological resources are better managed and better conditions for the next growing period are established.

Further Information

Lihula county (in Estonian)

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