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€500m and €100m wind farms planned for Northeastern Estonia

A wind farm in Paldiski, Harju County. Feb. 20, 2015.
A wind farm in Paldiski, Harju County. Feb. 20, 2015. Source: (Tairo Lutter/Postimees/Scanpix)

Estonian entrepreneurs Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg are planning on setting up an 85-turbine wind farm on the territory of a former oil shale mine in Vaivara Municipality's Mustanina village at an estimated cost of 425-510 million euros, while AS Vaivara Wind, a company majority owned by Mainor, is planning to build a 32-turbine wind farm of its own in Auvere village for an estimated 100 million euros.

Before launching the project in Mustanina, however, the wind farm in nearby Aidu village, Lüganuse Municipality must first be completed, which is expected to take place in 2019. All of these locations are situated in the area of former old shale mines in Northeastern Estonia.

"The plan is to set up wind farms in Vaivara in several stages, first in Mustanina and, in the second stage, in Auvere after the Aidu wind farm is completed," Andres Sõnajalg told BNS. "Plans are for the work in Aidu to be completed in 2019, but the process there is affected by the issue of the Tootsi wind farm [in Pärnu County] and continued lack of progress on the Electricity market Act, to which the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has proposed to add an innovation measure. Hence it is difficult to say currently when the work will begin."

The first phase of the project is the Vaivara wind farm, for which a plan has been approved by the local authority and which is to be established on the territory of the former Narva open pit mine in Mustanina village. Altogether 85 wind turbines are planned to be built there at a cost of 425-510 million euros.

"Different wind farms have been planned for Vaivara Municipality — the Vaivara wind farm with a planned capacity of 85 turbines and the Auvere wind farm, whose number of turbines is still open and depends on the plan," Sõnajalg clarified. "We are working on the second wind farm’s plan together with Vaivara Wind AS and we very much hope that they, too, will prefer Estonia’s Eleon turbines for their wind farm, which is expected to have 32 turbines."

Both wind farms are planned to be used to gather references for the second and third models of Eleon turbines for export. The link-up capacity with the power grind is 1,000 megawatts, which if completed as planned would be one of the biggest onshore wind farms in the world, according to Sõnajalg.

Defense ministry still restricting turbine height for national security reasons

Requirements by the Estonian Ministry of Defence place restrictions on the height of turbines, as the blades of electricity-generating wind turbines interfere with air surveillance radar images, and the Estonian Air Force’s air surveillance system is a part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS), which produces aggregate airspace imagery for NATO allies.

"We are working together with the ministry to jointly set up a radar in the area with special features that would alleviate the impact of the wind turbines to the necessary degree," Sõnajalg explained. "Right now, preparations are underway to set up such a test radar supplied by Denmark at their expense and with their help in Estonia this year already."

He said that in addition to the radar issue, Eleon’s international team of experts has found a technical solution to the problem of radio surveillance as well.

"We are planning to test it in the spring on the first wind turbine to be put up at Eleon’s first reference farm in Aidu," said the Estonian businessman. "If the tests are successful and the measurements thorough, the Eleon wind turbine will become a one-of-a-kind radio surveillance-friendly wind turbine that will give us a significant competitive advantage in several countries in addition to Estonia, including in Switzerland and Finland."

Besides, he added, intense work is going on in a government-formed work group dedicated to solving the issue concerning the maximum height of the turbines. If that proves successful, it will be possible to erect wind turbines with a height exceeding 200 meters — a definite must for new-generation multi-megawatt turbines, according to Sõnajalg — everywhere in Vaivara.

The establishment of the Auvere wind farm, which would represent the second phase of the project, is still in the planning phase.

"As things currently stand, wind turbines up to 155-200 meters high are allowed there on the condition that the solution to the radio surveillance issue, which we are planning on solving with Eleon’s novel technology, is acceptable to the Ministry of Defence," said the businessman.

"The aforementioned Danish fill-in radar would also lift height restrictions applicable to the Auvere wind farm, which is an extremely important technical parameter in extending the lifespan of wind turbines through less turbulence and greater efficiency," he added, noting that engineers had established that each additional meter of turbine height would increase output by 0.4-0.5 percent.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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