TALLINN – On Monday, the Environmental Investment Center (KIK) submitted an application for a superficies license for the Estonian-Latvian offshore wind farm project Elwind to the Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA).
As part of the procedure of the superficies license, the TTJA will initiate an environmental impact assessment, during which KIK will commission the environmental studies necessary for the pre-development of the project for a wind farm of up to 1,000 megawatts in the Estonian sea area, spokespeople for KIK said in a press release.
"In order to achieve climate neutrality and increase security of supply, we need to produce significantly more renewable electricity, while also taking into account future electricity consumption growth. Offshore wind farms are therefore urgently needed by Estonia, and it is gratifying that the Elwind project, which is pre-developed by the state, is entering the next phase, bringing us a step closer to securing a future with local, cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy production," Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut said in a press release.
The size of the sea area requested for the superficies license is 194 square kilometers. The area is situated more than 10 kilometers from the nearest point of Saaremaa island. Depending on the final size of the project and the choice of generators, the wind farm will be made up of between 20 and 50 turbines.
According to the application, the state, as the pre-developer of the project, wants the offshore farm to be linked up to the 330-kilovolt main grid substation to be built in western Saaremaa.
Tonn Tuvikene, project manager for Elwind, said that there is no 330-kilovolt power grid in Saaremaa today. In October 2022, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications updated its owner's expectations for the transmission grid operator Elering and instructed it to start designing a 330-kilovolt connection to the transmission grid in Saaremaa as soon as possible, in order to enable the connection of the offshore wind farms set forth in the offshore wind energy development areas, as per the Estonian maritime spatial plan, to the Estonian electricity system.
As part of the project, the states of Estonia and Latvia will carry out the necessary preparatory work and then hold auctions for superficies licenses. Based on the conclusions of studies, the suitable development area in Estonia is the sea area to the west of Saaremaa's Sorve peninsula, where there are good conditions for wind energy production. In the Latvian sea area, the wind farm area of the joint project is located off the coast of the Kurzeme region, between Liepaja and Ventspils.
The project's hybrid solution, where wind energy production takes place simultaneously in the Estonian and Latvian sea areas and the electricity produced can be supplied to the electricity grids of both countries according to the market situation, makes it a unique energy independence project in the region.
Based on the sea area economic benefit model developed within the framework of the Estonian maritime spatial plan, the realization of the Elwind project is estimated to generate up to 50-100 million euros of state revenue per year for Estonia and create approximately 70 to 100 direct long-term jobs, in addition to thousands of jobs in Estonia and Europe in the manufacture and installation of wind farm components.
The project is implemented by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Latvian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Estonian Environmental Investment Center and the Latvian Investment and Development Agency.