Electricity and gas system operator Elering is replacing the second and last overhead power line connecting Saaremaa and Muhu via Väinatamm Dam with a second undersea power cable, which will increase the islands' security of supply as well as eliminate the danger posed to birds by the overhead line.
Construction of the new undersea cable, which will be installed north of the current one, will be financed in part from support from the EU recovery package, Elering said in a press release on Friday.
According to Elering board chairman Taavi Veskimägi, this boost in financing will mean a faster implementation of this project which will also be cheaper for consumers.
"Thanks to the support coming from the European Commission's recovery package, we were able to move this investment forward by several years," Veskimägi said. "Replacing the overhead line on the Väike Strait dam with an undersea cable will further bolster the security of electricity supply to the people of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. This will also eliminate the danger posed to birds."
Saaremaa and Muhu Municipalities have both issued design specifications for the second cable's planned route, and the owners of the properties along the route have already agreed to grant the right of use of their properties. A procurement for the construction of the cable is slated to be launched this fall or winter.
Should the necessary building permit and permit for the special use of water be issued by this summer as projected, the cable is scheduled to be installed in summer 2024.
The construction of the second undersea cable in Väike Strait is part of a broader project in the framework of which the connectivity of new renewable energy capacities to the power grid is being improved with financial support from the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility. According to the agreement concluded between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and Elering, the total cost of the project is €69 million, €30 million of which is currently slated to be funded by the EU.
The first undersea power cable connecting Saaremaa and Muhu via Väike Strait was installed in 2019. Elering also replaced both Soviet-era undersea cables in Suur Väin with modern cables in 2015 and 2020, respectively.
Elering is also currently in the process of building a 110-kilowatt parallel line passing through the island of Muhu as well as completely overhauling Sikassaare substation on the outskirts of Kuressaare, both of which will likewise bolster the Estonian islands' security of supply.
Editor: Aili Vahtla