Simanaitis Says

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ESTONIA HAS launched a nationwide system of electric-vehicle fast chargers, with 507 EVs to use them and a financing program for people to buy these EVs—all in exchange for some surplus pieces of paper.

If you found the Reuter’s news item on this subject a little puzzling, perhaps you have yet to buy into the idea of cap-and-trade.

Generalities first, then the Estonian Gambit, and a bit of sleuthing.

Cap-and-trade sets an upper limit on something deemed harmful, CO2, say, with permits sold to companies allowing them to emit certain amounts of this gas in their operation.

If the company is willing to make a CO2-reducing investment, it can sell this permit as an emissions credit to another company. Maybe this second company has an inherently CO2-intensive business; maybe it just wants to buy some time in its own clean-up. Maybe a third company gets involved, merely for the gaming aspects.

A government-run or -sanctioned market evolves for the issuing, buying and selling of these permits. It’s something like a stock market—with a key difference. Stocks come with the equity, reputation and profit-making potential of companies issuing them. At this point, an emissions-control trading market is a much scarier concept.


The EU ETS is Europe’s—and the world’s—largest emissions trading system.

Europe has cap-and-trade big time with the EU ETS, what its official website terms the European Union Emissions Trading System. (E has also stood for “Emission,” S, for “Scheme.”) Here in the U.S., a cap-and-trade on SO2, sulfur dioxide, is seen as successful in reducing acid rain in the northeast.

By contrast, a Chicago Climate Exchange closed down at the end of 2010, essentially for lack of interest, after eight years of not altogether successful operation. California is starting an ambitious cap-and-trade, based on AB-32, a greenhouse-gas reduction program that’s not without controversy.

Meanwhile, back in Estonia, in 2011 the government found itself with 10 million surplus CO2 permits. They sold these permits to Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation in exchange for accelerated electrification of the country.


Estonia is the northernmost of the three Baltic countries; the other two are Latvia in the middle and Lithuania.

Thus far, Mitsubishi has underwritten the production and installation of 165 EV chargers throughout Estonia (a country, by the way, about twice the area of Massachusetts). Asea Brown Boveri, a Swedish/Swiss combine and major world player in the electric power industry, did the work.

It’s said these ABB chargers are of the high-voltage “quick-charger” variety. This sort, contrasted with the U.S. 120-volt Level 1 or 240-volt Level 2, is able to provide a 30-minute, 80-percent recharge, albeit with an unknown degree of accelerated battery degradation.


The i-Miev is Mitsubishi’s entry in the world BEV market.

Also Mitsubishi provided 507 i-Miev cars, together with a company-funded program to subsidize Estonian sales of these battery electric vehicles.

Estonia has a population of about 1.2 million people. Thus far, there are 619 BEVs in the country, about 500 used by public authorities and the rest in private or corporate hands.

Reuters says this amounts to one BEV/1000 cars, second only to Norway, which has four BEVs/1000 cars. The Netherlands is third in this regard with 0.6 BEV/1000 cars (see for more on this).

Back in 2009 (the most recent EU statistic I could find), there were 407 cars per 1000 Estonians. (This compared with extremes of Italy’s 606 and Romania’s 197. The U.S. figure was 812 in 2010.)

Given Estonia’s 1.2 million people, this works out to around 488,000 cars in 2009, maybe 600,000 today. Thus, indeed, those 619 BEVs translate proportionally into one BEV per 1000 vehicles.

But said another way, 619/600,000 is 0.001—or if you prefer a percentage, about a tenth of one percent of the cars on Estonian roads.

An Estonian BEV driver won’t wear out the headlights blinking hello to kindred spirits. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

One comment on “ESTONIAN GAMBIT

  1. Pingback: Guide website for Estonia |

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2013 by in Driving it Today and tagged , , , .
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