Wind farm developers: Process takes too long

Wind farm in Paldiski.
Wind farm in Paldiski. Source: Enefit Green

The government has repeatedly stated that wind farm developments in Estonia need to be accelerated, but at the same time, there is a decision regarding a refused building permit about an off-shore wind farm on the government's table. There have been five new proposals to develop off-shore wind farms over the last few years.

Although the state has constantly communicated throughout the ongoing energy crisis that renewable energy developments must be accelerated, the government is dealing with a draft order, which refuses a building permit for one of the oldest off-shore wind farm developments in the country, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Friday.

The government has not yet discussed refusing a permit for the Neugrund wind farm, but the document, still awaiting Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' (Reform) signature, was completed on December 22. "In case it comes up in the agenda, then we will face it," Kallas said.

Neugrund wind farm developer Märt Poots said the current saga shows how the state has kept looking for justifications for why a wind farm cannot be put up in a very suitable location. The project was kicked off in 2006, the building permit application was presented in 2010.

"I think if things had gone normally, development taking six years would have been completely normal, it likely could not be done faster, studies take time and all that. But not much came of our cooperation with the state," Poots said.

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications vice-chancellor Timo Tatar said there are some projects that have been left standing for too long. "There has not been the political willingness to make these decisions, especially during earlier governments. These decisions have been unpopular in certain cases, they have not wanted to say 'no' and officially formalize it," Tatar said.

Developers say 10 years is about the maximum period, which would still please them. "The procedure is too long. It takes years and years, which means developers would rather build their farms in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, but not Estonia," Estonian Wind Power Association CEO Terje Talv said, adding that the process takes considerably less time in neighboring countries.

Over the past eight years, there have been no major mainland wind farm developments in Estonia. The first off-shore wind farm is expected to be completed in 2028.

Tatar said proceedings have accelerated some over the past few years, however. "Building permit applications stood in place for very long and no decisions came out of it. Since 2019, there has been a list of decisions where the state has permitted the building permit proceedings. Five of them are currently ongoing. Three of these proceedings were initiated in 2019, the one for Saare Wind was initiated in 2020 and [energy concern] Utilitas' application was greenlit at the end of last year," the ministry official said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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