16 applications submitted for 3 wind farm areas in maritime plan

An offshore wind farm (photo is illustrative).
An offshore wind farm (photo is illustrative). Source: United Nations Photo/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In January, the long-discussed Estonian maritime spatial plan is set to be completed, which will confirm the locations of three off-shore wind farms. 16 applications have already been submitted for the three areas.

Although the parties interested can express their opinions and ideas about the spatial plan for a month, the plan is essentially completed, said Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center). The plan will go to the government in the end of the year and it will likely be approved in January.

Aab said the plan must now take into consideration fishing areas and wind farms. Since there are intensive fishing areas in two of the development areas, there will be reserve areas allocated to fishermen where they can continue trawling until 2026.

"The areas currently designated for wind farm development are sufficient enough to cover Estonia's electricity demand a few times over. We have tried to reach agreements and solutions, which would satisfy fishermen, trawlers and wind farm developers," Aab said.

The minister pointed out that there will be reserve fishing areas until 2026 for trawlers to continue fishing. "So fishermen can continue earning their daily bread," Aab noted.

In multiple places, wind farm areas are located in areas where fishing is currently conducted. "Since the coverage of wind areas and trawling areas is great in the Gulf of Riga, more than 90 percent, then we needed to find solutions in the gulf and the top of Cape Sõrve, which would take the fishers' worries into consideration. That these are historically developed areas, we do not just fish in random places," said Estonian Fishermen's Association board member Mart Undrest.

The reserve areas for fishermen are located in two of the wind farm development areas. The area south of Saaremaa is adjacent to the existing spatial plan, which Eesti Energia is using to create a wind farm. The company said that since the Gulf of Riga wind farm is multiple years ahead of other wind farms, Eesti Energia is focused on developing it.

16 new applications have been submitted for the three development areas, all by companies Utilitas and Sunly Wind. These applications have been delayed because of the maritime spatial plan's completion.

Elering is also interested in developing an off-shore wind farm, which the company would use to create a cable connection to the mainland. "The state has a plan of offering these areas out to private investors, who will then develop the wind farms. We want a supplemental electricity connection for Estonia and Latvia, meaning a fourth connection with Latvia, which we could connect these wind farms to," said Elering spokesperson Ain Köster.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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