Peat in Estonia

Peatlands are a major feature of the topography in Estonia, occupying about 20% of its total territory. Peatlands are distributed throughout the country, with the largest mires being located on the plains. Estonia has a long history of peat utilisation: mechanised harvesting dates from 1861, whilst the first peat-fired power plant was operating in 1918 and peat briquetting began in 1939. Total peat resources are estimated to be 1.64 billion tonnes, of which active resources amount to 1.12 billion tonnes.

Annual use of peat for fuel has averaged about 350 000 tonnes in recent years but, as in other countries, tends to be highly variable. In thousands of tonnes, A considerable proportion of peat is used to produce briquettes, most of which are destined for export. In 2007,  briquette production totalled 128 000 tonnes, of which 75% was exported, the balance being very largely consumed in the residential sector. As a consequence of the low peat harvest in 2008, output of briquettes in that year was nearly halved. Exports of peat briquettes, however, fell by only 5 000 tonnes, whilst domestic consumption actually increased. This was possible through a substantial drawdown in stocks of briquettes, which fell by 40 000 tonnes. Most of the consumption of un-briquetted peat is accounted for by district heating and electricity generation (mainly CHP). Some sod peat (27 000 tonnes in 2008) is exported, but annual amounts are highly variable.