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Estonia red-flags 600-MW Saaremaa offshore wind project citing national security concerns

Wind turbines in the Baltic Sea. Author: Håkan Dahlström. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

April 10 (Renewables Now) - Citing concerns of a potential threat to national security, the Estonian government has refused to initiate procedures necessary to issue a construction permit for the building of a EUR-1.7-billion (USD 1.9bn) offshore wind farm off the west coast of the island of Saaremaa.

Estonian wind developer Saare Wind Energy OU was pursuing the project. The wind farm was to consist of 100 turbines of 6 MW each 10 to 27 kilometers off the western coast of the island. The company sent a request to the government at the end of 2017 asking it to initiate a construction permit issuance procedure.

Saare Wind sought a permit valid for 50 years. According to Estonia’s Commercial Register, the owners of the developer are Veiko Vali and Kuido Kartau, holding 66.7% and 33.3% shares respectively.

Estonian authorities did not say what specifically prompted them to red-flag the much-anticipated wind project. Urmas Reinsalu, minister of Justice said, referring to the findings of Estonia’s Internal Security Service, that the reason for the thumbs-down was the suspicion that, with the construction permit granted, the applicant may “threaten public order, social security and national security.”

The projected wind farm’s annual output was expected to be 2,800 GWh, which is equal to 30.9% of Estonia's total electricity output in 2015. The annual electricity production in the Estonian electricity system in 2015 was 9,062 GWh.

If built, the offshore wind turbines would have been located at 100 metres from one another and would have taken up a territory of roughly 100 sq km. The offshore wind farm was due by early 2022.

Tuuliki Kasonen, general manager of the Estonian Wind Power Association, did not respond to Renewables Now's request for comment.

In late November 2018, Estonia’s Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Estonian offshore wind sector by annulling maritime special plans envisioning building two offshore wind parks of a combined capacity of up to 2.16 GW near the island of Hiiumaa and in the Bay of Riga. The projects were pursued by Nelja Energia and Eesti Energia. The court said at the time that the spatial planning did not detail the environmental impact of the projects in the environmentally sensitive marine zone.

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About the author

Linas Jegelevicius is editor-in-chief of The Baltic Times newspaper, author of three books and an active freelance journalist. Apart from the domestic market, he is also following the energy developments in all Baltic states and Russia.

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