Estonia starts assessment for offshore wind energy

The Estonian government has approved the start of the permit process and environmental impact assessment for three offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Riga.

The economy ministry said the wind turbines projects are an up to 1GW development by Eesti Energia, a 380 MW wind farm planned by Tuuletraal and a single wind turbine 4 MW initiative by Five Wind Energy.

Eesti Energia’s wind power project will comprise up to 160 wind turbines at a site south of Kihnu.

The 76-turbine Tuuletraal wind power project includes plans for aquaculture infrastructure, where mussels will also be grown.

It is planned to be located about 30km from the coast, near Saaremaa, Kihnu and the mainland of Parnu County.

The ministry said that the export cable is planned to link to Laanemaa, but a connection to Latvia is also under consideration.

The 90-metre high one-turbine development by Five Wind Energy is planned for the southern coast of Saaremaa.

It will be about 200 metres from the shore near the Nasva harbour.

The ministry said the structure would consist of an artificial island with slope insurance and breakwaters.

Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aasa said: “If we are to gradually reduce our dependence on oil shale electricity, we need to work on alternatives today.

“Several studies have shown that one of the most realistic options is the development of offshore wind farms.

“If we add biomass cogeneration plants, good cable connections to neighbours, and small-scale distributed generation to the equation, we will be able to breathe even cleaner air by 2050 than today.

“This is an extraordinary decision. There are currently no wind turbines in the Estonian coastal sea, but we know that the natural conditions are very good.

“Offshore wind farms have the advantage of lower national defence constraints than onshore, better offshore wind conditions, and the fact that offshore wind farms do not interfere with people’s daily lives as much as existing solutions, is less important.”

Eesti Energia said the government’s decision to initiate the construction permit procedure for the Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm will allow it to continue its research and search for partners for the project.

Eesti Energia started planning the Gulf of Riga wind farm in 2009 and has already carried out initial wind measurements, seabed, ice and bird surveys.

The surveys have shown that the location is suitable for the construction of an offshore wind farm, said Aavo Karmas, chief executive of Enefit Green, a subsidiary of Eesti Energia.

The wind farm is expected to be completed before 2030, and the project is being developed in full cooperation with the local community, Eesti Energia said.

Karmas said: “The Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm has the potential to become the first joint Estonian-Latvian renewable energy production project, as the Latvian-developed wind farm development area is only 10km away from the Gulf of Riga.

“There is no experience of building an offshore wind farm in Estonia, so it is logical that an offshore wind farm of this size will be made in cooperation with several companies. The doors are open for cooperation between partners.

“Given the cross-border nature of potential co-operation, the importance of co-operation between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and its Latvian counterpart in agreeing on the infrastructure solution needed to develop the project should be emphasised. We hope to continue the excellent cooperation so far.”

The governments of Estonia and Latvia announced plans earlier this month to cooperate on the development of offshore wind farms.