Eesti Energia claims Elering biased in wind farm vision

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Wind turbine at Aidu Wind Park in Ida-Viru county. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

State-owned energy group Eesti Energia is claiming that grid distributor Elering has not taken the former's Gulf of Riga maritime wind farm project into consideration in their Baltic Sea energy network vision, which raises questions about the distributor's impartiality and equal treatment of parties involved.

Eesti Energia and Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted have signed an agreement which outlines a vision for the development of an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga. At the same time, the state is preparing a separate area to host a wind farm with Latvia, to go with transnational connections.

The states involved are conducting research for the development of the wind farm and once the respective permits have been granted, a public tender for the park's developer will be organized. Elering and Latvian grid distributor AS Augstsprieguma tikls (AST) are searching for solutions to connect the wind farm's electricity network.

Eesti Energia chairman Hando Sutter turned to Elering chief Taavi Veskimäe recently since Elering's published Baltic Sea energy network vision does not involve Eesti Energia's potential wind farm in the Gulf of Riga. The energy firm assesses that Elering's vision has been drawn up while only taking into consideration the grid operators' project.

Sutter points out that the memorandum signed by Estonia and Latvia states that the joint project does not only involve the area between the countries, but multiple regions and projects, while also considering existing and new projects.

"Unfortunately, Elering's published Baltic Sea energy network vision ignores this important principle in the memorandum of understanding. This is why we are proposing Elering AS to follow the principle of equal treatment in further off-shore wind farm development projects and consider them in the planned maritime connection," Sutter penned.

For example, Sutter points to an article published by Elering in April, which aims to synchronize the Baltic power systems with the Continental Europe synchronous area by the end of 2025.

Eesti Energia assesses that the article (Estonian version) shifts focus from projects designed and developed by other developers, such as the Gulf of Riga wind farm, which has reached the building permit procedure stage. This is not in accordance with equal treatment principles or the goals of the memorandum, according to Eesti Energia.

Sutter wrote that the other wind farms should also be added to Elering's vision, especially when considering that Eesti Energia and Ørsted are planning to complete the wind farm by 2030.

"We hereby propose that when planning the maritime energy network, advanced projects under development should be treated as equal to state projects, especially the Estonian-Latvian off-shore wind farm," the letter reads.

Elering has noted in their schedule that off-shore wind farm projects in the Baltic Sea will be carried out without grants. Eesti Energia assesses that it is difficult to ensure an economy of scale in the development of Baltic projects, which is why states should support the projects to help mitigate the risks. Elering's vision document however would see risks increase for parties involved in the market.

Eesti Energia has previously stated it wants the government to offer its guarantee to the project so that when the price of electricity drops below a certain level, the state would compensate the balance. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications does not consider this necessary and the state has assessed that renewable energy projects could be carried out without additional grants or state aid.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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