Sea area plan sets over 20 conditions for wind farms

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

Over 20 conditions have been set for wind energy in the final document of Estonia's sea area plan.

The sea area plan determines where offshore wind farms can be erected and provides relevant conditions. The suitability analysis considers wind power density, depth and rules out overlap with natural values, marine life, national defense zones and busy shipping lines.

"Planning offshore wind power is a serious process. On the one hand, the state needs to hit climate targets and find new economically feasible solutions, while it is clear coastal communities in particular are hesitant when it comes to wind farms, mainly because of the visual disturbance," project coordinator Triin Lepland writes in the finance ministry's blog.

Offshore wind power could also have an effect on traditional maritime sectors, such as fishing and shipping. To balance interests, a social buffer with the aim of offsetting visual effects has been described – turbines need to lie at least 11 kilometers from the coast.

To compensate for the nuisance caused by the turbines, the government has focused on the so-called local benefit instrument and interest of local governments and communities to put up with developments to determine how to compensate people for the disturbance.

"We can point out as a separate consideration that the construction and maintenance of wind farms will likely become a new source of income for the local level, both in terms of financial resources and labor," the coordinator said.

Around 70 percent of areas deemed suitable for wind farms will be used. "That is to say it is both impossible and unrealistic to build wind farms in every possible location," Lepland remarked.

It will become clear in the building permit stage of developments where inside suitable areas turbines can be erected. Additional studies to determine the environmental effect of developments will be required in said stage.

The latter need to include an overview of breeding grounds of fishes, as well as the situation of birds and bats. The Kihnu and Ruhnu headings in the Gulf of Riga and the Sõrve Peninsula in Saaremaa see intensive migratory movement of bats and birds that needs to be considered in the building permit stage.

Estonia's first national sea area spatial plan provides the direction for the next 15 years of maritime development, offering an integral picture of uses of sea area and a full framework of conditions and guidelines. Feedback on the solution and effects analyses is welcome until December 8.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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