Largest Enercon wind farm in the Baltics (Lithuania)

Enercon has completed foundation work for its largest wind farm in the Baltics so far. Customer of the 17 x E-82/2.0 MW wind turbines in Benai¡ ciai is Renerga, a 26-employee company that is part of the well-esteemed Achema Group, Vilnius.

The new wind farm shall contribute to the company’s aim to become the best and most reliable wind energy producer in Lithuania. One of the main challenges of the realisation of wind farms in the Baltics is grid integration”, says Linas Sabliauskas, the Director of JSC Renerga, based in Jonava near Kaunas.

According to Sabliauskas, the grid operator tries to avoid any investment in enhancement. Thus, Renerga is building a new branch in Benai¡ciai to connect the wind farm’s substation to the grid.

“Since 2006, there has been a reserved seat for this expansion,” adds Sabliauskas. “Existing power lines of 110 kV are not capable of carrying more MW at the necessary pace.”

Renerga is also building parts of the MV transmission lines, which in the future will allow the grid operator to make circuit connections.

Another challenge in Lithuania is political support. “There are many good speeches in the political institutions, but as a fact we still don’t have a renewable support law,” states Sabliauskas.

However, time is running out: In 2010, Lithuania closed its nuclear power station, so that today the country is completely dependent on gas and electricity from Russia.

“Electricity prices have increased by 28 %, so everybody is wondering about a self-sufficient supply,” reports Sabliauskas. According to the original schedule, construction work at Benai¡ciai should have started last year. But soil conditions proved to be more complicated than expected.

Therefore, several additional soil samples and analyses were needed. Finally, foundation construction started this spring, after frost and snow had left the site. “We are assembling a mixture of pile and gravel foundations, with buoyancy and various quantities of soil exchange. Construction work is running according to schedule now,” reports Enercon project manager Lutz Gormans.

The Benai¡ciai wind power project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010. Then, Renerga will have 50 MW of wind energy under operation. The company is aiming to further diversify generation capacity: Another 50 MW of wind energy are to be installed by 2014. Hydro power and biomass cogeneration plants are also planned with a power of 100 MW.

“We need even more capacity, because in the long run we have to compete with gas-fired power plants,” says Renerga’s Director. On a neighbouring lot in Benai ¡ciai, Enercon realised two projects in 2007. With a share of 82 %, the manufacturer is by far the market leader in Lithuania.

This year, four more E-82 wind farms will be installed in the country. “In addition to our bestseller, we currently receive many requests for the E-33 wind turbines, which is typical for a weak grid area,” says Jørn Kristensen, Enercon sales manager for the Baltics.