New military radar may pave way for eastern Estonia wind farms

Work at Aidu Wnd Park in Ida-Viru County, here photographed by Ministry of Defence drones, has been held up, partly due to concerns its turbines would interfere with existing military radar. Source: Ministry of Defence

New military radar systems will reduce restrictions on wind farm construction in Estonia's eastern-most county.

The coalition government decided to update Estonia's airspace radar systems on Thursday, BNS reports, with the new radar in Ida-Viru County likely up and running by 2024.

"This will solve the problem [of wind turbines interfering with military radar signals], to some degree … Restrictions will remain in force to the east of the Jõhvi-Lisaku line, due to signals intelligence requirements. There will be more space than at present for wind farm development west of that, to some extent," said Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Defence, according to BNS.

Each radar, used for airspace surveillance, comes with a pricetag of €37 million, a figure expected to be earned from the sale of carbon credits.

"Income from emission quota sales can be used according to the principle that one-half would be used for climate measures, and the other half for something else. We reckon that the cost of the radar would come from the proportion earmarked for climate measures," Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Centre) said.

"Should it become clear that the radar cannot be purchased via these climate measures [alone], the other half of the quota income will be made available," Aas continued.

Operating costs of the new radar are estimated at around €22 million, over a 25-year period, which Aas said would be covered by the defense ministry.

While two such radars were touted to cover the eastern and western halves of the country, only the radar covering the eastern sector is to be purchased initially, meaning the current restrictions will remain in place in the west of the country.

"There are no radar 'shops', with ten units on the shelf letting you walk in and buy two. Due to the manufacturing process you cannot have everything immediately," Oidsalu explained.

Claims that wind turbines at a development in Aidu interfered with military radar was one of the obstacles in a long-running controversy over the construction of the wind park, the brainchild of businessmen brothers Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg.

However, Taavi Aas also said that postponement of buying radar covering the western half of the country had no bearing on any future construction of wind farms; the government also discussed looking at wind farms coexisting with nature reserves going forward.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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