Estonia is the most northern Baltic country with a population like the german city of Munich and a digital role model for the rest of the European Union. Kids learn programming in elementary school, necessary paperwork can be done online and even elections take place in the world wide web. Our partner Energieavantgarde Anhalt talked with Mihkel Härm, Partner Relations Manager of Eesti Energia AS, about the leading role of Estonia and what Germany can learn from it.
How did Estonia come to play a leading role in digitalization and how does this role impact energy transition?
Estonia’s leading role in digitalization has two main reasons. First is the general mindset of the Estonian people, people in Estonia embrace everything new and are always willing to try new things. The second reason why we Estonians were on the forefront of digitalization is the fact that we simply didn’t have any of the old tech, when we reclaimed our independence in the 1990s, we had to start from zero, and it made sense to start using the best technologies that were available.
Energy on the other hand was for a long time still stuck in the past, but once we realized that digitalization makes the life of customer a lot better, that was when we started implemented the same digital solutions in the energy sector. Now this means that it is simpler for customers to install their local energy production and therefore this helps with the transition.
What can other regions and living labs learn from your work? What is your best advice for actors engaged in digitalizing the energy market?
Our best advice is to use the solutions and technologies that are available, don’t be afraid of the new. What we also can say is that it is important to think the whole system through, so that all parts would work together. And finally, it is important to empower the customer, so that the customer feels his or her actions matter and that he or she has something to gain from going digital.
Some argue that digitalized energy markets foster decentralization and social sustainability – what do you think about such grand claims?
This is true, customers get more power in their hands and this is only good. The three D’s are happening – decentralization, democratization, and decarbonization.