Sõnajalgs hoping to bring two Aidu wind turbines online soon

Wind turbine at Aidu Wind Farm in Ida-Viru County.
Wind turbine at Aidu Wind Farm in Ida-Viru County. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Two wind turbines located at Aidu Wind Farm in Ida-Viru County, the subject of a years-long dispute between the Ministry of Defense, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) and Andres and Oleg Sõnajalg's Eleon AS, should start operating soon, Andres Sõnajalg said.

In 2012, Aidu Wind Farm received authorization from the Ministry of Defense for the construction of 33 wind turbines. Two turbines built by Eleon exceeded the original planned height, however, and the ministry found that the turbines interfered with their air surveillance radars and signals intelligence.

The dispute with the Defense Ministry continued for years, and the TTJA ordered the turbines in question be dismantled. This January, however, the ministry announced that its first new air surveillance radar would be completed by 2024, and that height restrictions on some Northeastern Estonian wind turbines, including those at Aidu Wind Farm, would be lifted.

Andres Sõnajalg told ERR that the two already built turbines won't be standing idle until then, adding that analyses for starting operations are already in the process of being drawn up.

"We've been hoping over the past half a year to get the analysis done, but unfortunately everything has dragged," he said, adding that the delays have not been their fault. "Now it should be just around the corner."

The company expects the analysis to be finished within the next few days.

According to Sõnajalg, it's a matter of the parameters of the wind turbines, and once the analyses are complete, it will be possible to launch the certification process.

Priit Pallu, head of the Construction and Railway Department at the TTJA, confirmed that if the analysis indicates that the extent of the wind farm's impact on air surveillance radar is deemed acceptable by the Ministry of Defense, it will be possible to get a head start on the certification process for the two wind turbines in question.

"No construction will take place there prior to July 1, 2024," he added.

Operation could have prevented €4,000 price peak

According to Sõnajalg, instead of standing idle all this time, the two contentious wind turbines could have instead been producing energy for the past two years.

"When the price of electricity reached €4,000 [per megawatt-hour] this summer, they would have sufficed to prevent such a price from occurring throughout the Baltics," he claimed, referring to the fact that the two turbines have a combined production capacity of 6.8 megawatts, while the €4,000 peak hourly price triggered one day in August was the result of a production deficit of just a couple of megawatt-hours of energy.

The Eleon co-founder said that the process of bringing the turbines into service will be rather complicated, as they have stood idle for so long, which isn't good for electronics. They have striven to keep the turbines in working order, but the moment of truth will be when they are started up.

Aidu Wind Farm is counting on being able to apply for support via an existing measure. According to Sõnajalg, they haven't yet calculated how much support they might be able to expect, as the total figure will depend on several parameters.

"The support measure exists at all to provide an incentive effect for bringing new technologies to the market," he said. "Eleon is currently the only new wind technology in Europe, nevermind Estonia, right now. Such support is meant precisely for bringing such things to the market, not earning a profit. Bringing robotic technology of this magnitude to the market would be difficult otherwise."

Starting in 2024, the company will be able to continue moving forward with construction of the remainder of the wind farm without height restrictions, Sõnajalg added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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