Ida-Virumaa region turns off oil shale heating, replacing it with climate-friendly solutions

In the Estonian region of Ida-Virumaa, a well-designed Just Transition Plan will phase out shale oil and replace it with greener and more efficient heating solutions.

In a nutshell:

  • Estonia’s oil shale region will phase out fossil fuels in heating sector
  • A just transition supported with €20 million from the Just Transition Fund and based on local needs is resulting from a participatory process
  • Thorough research and assessment conducted to look for the best alternative solutions


For decades, heat production in the Estonian region of Ida-Virumaa has been dependent on shale oil. Today, the region has finally decided to shut down its shale oil mines and to start a just transition towards greener and more efficient heating solutions.

The transition towards a greener heating sector, however, will not take place using fast ready-made solutions. Rather, the draft Territorial Just Transition Plan of the Ida-Virumaa region is based on local needs, the research for innovative solutions and the assessment of their impacts and their potential risks in different contexts. This needs-based approach takes into account the existing heating infrastructure, while at the same time envisaging a variegated set of innovative green solutions to deploy on a case-by-base basis depending on practical needs; these may include waste heat, electric boilers, heat pumps, geothermal energy and efficient cogeneration combined with heat storage.

This measure, supported by €20 million coming from the Just Transition Fund, is also the result of coordinated efforts, as it builds on the Green Plan for, a policy proposal co-created at regional level which suggests that innovation based on renewable energy sources and increased energy efficiency of buildings is the key for a fast, cost-effective transition of the Estonian heating sector away from shale oil. Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication is actively encouraging this approach, making the effort to analyse different solutions concretely and motivate heating producers to invest in them.

This is yet another example of how EU cash can contribute to make a just transition happen, provided that bold policy steps are taken, cooperation among stakeholders flourishes and local needs are taken into consideration.


Unpublished working document shared with Steering Committee members

The Green Plan for Ida-Virumaa