First off-shore wind farms could be completed by end of decade

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)

The first-ever maritime spatial plan has been drawn up and is set to reach the government in January. The plan would make it possible to develop more wind farms in three areas off the coast of Estonia than the country consumes with the first off-shore wind farms potentially ready to operate by the end of the decade.

With the maritime plan, the state establishes three areas off the coast of Estonia, where developers can begin working on off-shore wind farms, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Wednesday.

"The compromise negotiations were rather complicated because there are several different interests for the maritime area. Unfortunately, it is not possible to implement new uses without making a compromise for traditional uses of the sea," said Ministry of Finance planning department acting director Triin Lepland.

The first area is adjacent to the already ongoing Gulf of Riga wind farm development. The second area, the largest of the three, is west of Saaremaa and the third area is in the vicinity of the second. The total off-shore wind farm area is 1,700 km2, enough to develop wind farms with a production capacity of 7 GW.

"If we were to construct wind farms all over those areas, it would exceed Estonia's current electricity consumption. That would make it a very powerful export article for Estonia," Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications deputy chancellor Timo Tatar told ERR.

"But let's be realistic here - we worked very hard to get the first off-shore wind farms going, so we should just be glad that there are more areas to develop them in now," the ministry official noted.

Tatar said 2-3 GW would be enough to cover Estonia's consumption. "We are lacking cheap electricity production options. I believe we will have sea wind by the end of the decade," he said.

Although a 1 GW off-shore wind farm investment could require an investment of €2 billion, renewable energy developers are eagerly awaiting the maritime spatial plan.

Enefit Green board chair Aavo Kärmas said developers have presented applications totaling 13 GW in electricity production. "This shows that the interest for it is great. What will be the final production capability, that is the next step. Once the plan is approved, we must begin processing applications, we can work on studies and then figure out where wind farms can be constructed," Kärmas said.

The Ministry of Finance published the maritime spatial plan in November. The plan has stated the general rules and principles for different uses of the sea and has also established conditions and directives for new uses. The spatial plan is an important foundation for the creation of off-shore wind farms in Estonia.

The plan sets more than 20 conditions for wind energy, including the locations of wind farms, taking into consideration wind power density, depth and rules out overlap with natural values, marine life, national defense zones and busy shipping lines.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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