Government committee discusses pushing wind farm development

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center).
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government's climate and energy committee (kliima- ja energiakomisjon) discussed the construction of wind farms in Estonia, including offshore facilities, on Wednesday, noting the sector's importance.

"Wind energy currently has the widest development potential among renewable energy sources in Estonia," said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Wednesday evening.

"The government has already made decisions which will remove the height restrictions on land from some wind farms, thus creating new opportunities for developers," he went on.

The issue of wind turbine heights has long dogged private sector investors in wind farms, both off-shore, as in the case of the proposed facility off the northwest coast of Estonia, in the vicinity of the Neugrund meteorite crater, and on-shore, as in the case of the Sõnajalg brothers' site at Aidu, Ida-Viru County.

The defense ministry has long claimed that turbines greater than 150 meters in height will interfere with its radar; this and other issues connected with planning and the environment have held up the aforementioned projects for around a decade now.

Offshore wind farms in the Baltic a priority

Offshore wind-farms were nonetheless also a priority, Jüri Ratas said at Wednesdsay's meeting.

"To move forward with the construction of offshore wind farms, we need to act prudently and work closely, especially with our immediate neighbors."

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) concurred.

"Offshore wind farms in Estonia have a particularly large capacity reserve. By realizing all our potential, we would be able to produce three times more electricity than we currently consume," he said.

The government's climate and energy committee, formed last July, aims to reduce Estonia's greenhouse gas emissions, thereby improving the competitiveness of the Estonian economy and ensuring energy security and security of supply, the government says.

After originally opposing the EU's climate deal, which aims for climate neutrality by 2050 across the union, Estonia came on board in October last year.

Estonia's European Commissioner, Kadri Simson (Center) holds the portfolio for energy.

Wind farm developments would also require better coordination with Estonia's southern neighbor, Latvia, the Estonian government committee meeting found Wednesday.

"As a first step, we must strengthen Estonian-Latvian cooperation in planning joint wind farms. We also plan to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Latvia on this issue, the draft of which will be discussed by the government in June," Ratas said.

"The construction of wind parks and the reconstruction of buildings (see below-ed.) are issues that we discussed in the government's climate and energy committee meeting," Ratas wrote on his own social media page.

"Both are relevant to the previously agreed green revolution and the smart economic recovery which is now needed."

The commission also decided that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, together with other relevant parties, would continue its activities to promote the Baltic Sea energy network.

In addition, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) is to provide the government with a new overview of the establishment of onshore wind farms, following the establishment of local government general plans and special plans in 2022.

The committee also received an overview of the principles of a long-term building reconstruction strategy prepared economic affairs ministry.

The Estonian building fund (Eesti hoonefond) accounts for about 50 percent of local energy consumption, the government says.

The government's climate committee is headed up by the prime minister; he and Taavi Aas are joined by education minister Mailis Reps (Center), defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa), environment minister Rene Kokk (EKRE), foreign affairs minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE).

Not all ministers need attend at the same time, and committee sessions are by invite from the premier; the strategy director of the State Chancellery is committee secretary.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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