Ida-Viru County solar panel installation restricted due to defense concerns

Rooftop solar panels.
Rooftop solar panels. Source: Elektrilevi

The Ministry of Defense has questioned whether solar power plants should be erected in areas of the country adjacent to the Russian border, arguing that these can interfere with military early warning systems.

Municipalities in Ida-Viru County, one of the affected areas, are concerned about being unable to meet climate goals set by the government, in the absence of solar, and also wind power generation.

In the eastern border town of Narva, a few buildings have solar panels installed, including the Astri and Fama shopping malls.

Local government says it would also like to install solar panels on public buildings, but beyond a capacity of 50KW, doing so must be coordinated with the defense ministry.

Miiko Peris, head of the ministry's innovations section, told AK that: "The challenge facing the Ministry of Defense is that electromagnetic waves emitted from a solar power installation interfere with the defense forces' early warning systems, and these early warning systems are, in turn, are a vital aspect to maintaining national defense."

The ministry says the restriction does not generally concern solar power plants installed on the roofs or outsides of school buildings and kindergartens, though size and capacity are important here too.

A planned 64KW bank of solar power panels planned for a kindergarten building must already be considered separately from the above exception, AK reported.

"Naturally, developing renewable energy sources is vital, but at the same time it is also important to push for the interests of national defense, so our goal is to find the best balance possible," Peris went on.

As national defense restriction on the use of both solar and wind energy cover the majority of Ida-Viru County, local governments are concerned about how to meet climate goals, particularly in respect of older buildings.

Eight municipalities in Ida-Viru County sent an appeal to the government on the matter, AK reproted.

The town's mayor, Katri Raik, told AK that: "We can't use solar energy, we can't use wind energy either, meaning we are expected to obtain renewable energy from water sources and from the ground, which is very expensive."

"Obviously, then, in the case of these regions, this achievement of nearly zero energy will have to be compensated for."

"Above all else, we want the government to understand that we cannot meet the climate goals it has set," the mayor continued.

The Ministry of Defense says it hope that, as the relevant tech makes advances, national defense restrictions on constructing solar parks may also get eased..

This has already happened in another area of renewables whose development has long clashed with defense ministry stated aims, namely wind power.

Height restrictions on turbines, again based on the argument that exceeding these would interfere with defensive early warning systems including radar, led to a long-running stand-off between private sector developers in Ida-Viru County, and the Estonian state.

As noted these restrictions have been loosened.

In addition to Ida-Viru County, southeastern Estonia is also affected most by the solar panel size limits put in place by the state.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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