Wind Energy Producers Hoping to Expand Offshore ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: ERR

Big plans to expand wind farms beyond Estonia's coastline were discussed at the nation's first conference to focus on offshore wind energy, held in Hiiumaa on October 29-30.

Plans are still in their beginning stages, as environmental studies and other obstacles are still ahead, but producers are eyeing Hiiumaa and Pärnumaa as possible sites, reported ETV.

According to the Estonian Wind Energy Association's website, there were 126 wind turbines in Estonia in 2012. A number of those projects have not materialized without protest, chiefly due to environmental concerns, and plans to expand out onto Estonia's waters are also likely to have opponents.

"It is extremely complicated to break that resistance even with reasonable arguments and to be honest I'm not so sure it should be broken," said Riho Rahuoja, the head of Hiiu County.

One skeptic, Hiiumaa resident Urmas Selirand, said: "If [building the wind farms] is the only way to ensure the survival of Europe, the world and Hiiumaa, as all our resources will purportedly run out, then I suppose it's inevitable."

A host of speakers from abroad shared their experiences at the conference, including representatives from Denmark, Sweden and Belgium.

A Danish expert, Hans Christian Sørensen, representing the Middlegrund wind energy association, discussed the financial involvement of local residents as a strategy for gaining support for projects.

This is a new concept in Estonia, according to the head of the Estonian Wind Energy Association, Martin Kruus.

"This is a completely new issue in Estonia, but not for our good neighbors. For example, the speaker from Denmark discussed a marine wind farm near Copenhagen where a major stake is owned by local residents and I believe Estonia is moving in that direction with regard to such major energy projects," Kruus said.

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