Wind Energy – Estonia
The Consumer Protection and Technical Supervision Agency (TTJA) in Estonia approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) program of the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm developed by Utilitas Wind.
Usually, the environmental studies begin after the program is approved. In the case of the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm, the surveys started already during the compilation of the program and therefore the first year’s studies have been carried out and the initial results are known.
“During the compilation of Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm EIA program, all involved authorities cooperated effectively, which resulted in the approval of the program in less than one year. This is an exceptionally fast outcome in Estonia. We started all the environmental studies outlined in the decision to initiate the superficies license immediately, so we were already able to provide both the public and decision-makers with more precise information regarding the scope of the studies. In addition, we saved at least a year in the project development time,” explained Kristiina Nauts, Head of planning and Environmental Impact Assessment at Utilitas Wind.
Utilitas Wind plans to move forward with the development fast and, if the cooperation with the government institutions is as effective in the coming year, the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm, which can produce nearly half of Estonia’s annual electricity needs, could be completed in 2028.
The EIA program of the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm outlines the expected significant impacts of the planned activities, the assessment of these impacts, and the studies necessary to be carried out. As part of the EIA report, impacts on nature, cultural heritage, social and economic environment, shipping, and air traffic are assessed and visualizations are carried out.
The EIA program is compiled by the environmental consulting company Roheplaan OÜ in cooperation with Hendrikson&Ko. The studies are carried out by the best experts and scientists in Estonia, as well as their international colleagues.
“Estonia’s nature and the behavior of species are best known to local experts and scientists, who gain important knowledge about the biota of the Gulf of Riga during these studies. Later in the impact assessments phase, we can additionally take into account international practice, which is fortunately pretty extensive,” added Riin Kutsar, the leading EIA expert in Roheplaan.
The areas suitable for offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Riga were defined by the county plan established in 2017 for the marine area bordering Pärnu County. TTJA initiated the s superficies license for Utilitas Wind’s Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm at the end of 2021. Utilitas Wind’s goal is that by 2028, at the latest, the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm could be producing environmentally friendly electricity. In the first stage of the development, according to the technical conditions issued by the grid company, approximately 80 wind turbines are planned to be built, with a total capacity of 1,200 MW and expected annual electricity production exceeding 5 TWh.