Van Oord buys into controversial Estonian project

Offshore contractor Van Oord will jointly develop what could be Estonia’s first offshore wind farm with its owner Saare Wind Energy after the government appeared to drop its opposition to the 600MW project.

Saare Wind Energy plan to build the 600MW wind farm off the island of Saaremaa's west coast (pic: Pixabay)
Saare Wind Energy plan to build the 600MW wind farm off the island of Saaremaa's west coast (pic: Pixabay)

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Van Oord and Saare Wind Energy plan to start the Environmental Impact Assessment for the site once they have received a 50-year building permit from the national government. 

The government had refused to start the permitting process for the planned 100-turbine site due to national security concerns in April 2019.

The project is planned for a site off the west coast of the island of Saaremaa. 

Saare Wind Energy had challenged the government in court, but both parties requested that it be aborted before the case could be heard.

One of the developer’s owners, planning and environmental consultant Kuido Kartau, told Windpower Monthly that Saare’s negotiations with the Estonian Investment Agency had helped allay the government's fears the developer could be manipulated by unfriendly states or investors.

Sulev Alajõe, a consultant at the investment agency, explained it had provided the government with a record of the developer’s contact with interested investors before the court hearing being scrapped.

Saare believes the Estonian authorities now have no reason to refuse the permit for 600MW Saaremaa Saaremaa (600MW) Offshoreoff Saaremaa, Saare County, Estonia, Europe Click to see full details.

Once it receives the licence, the developer can start the EIA process with its new partner Van Oord.

The Estonian company will be primarily responsible for the permitting and regulatory process, but will be supported technically and financially by Van Oord, a spokeswoman explained.

Van Oord, meanwhile, will be responsible for building the project but construction is still a long way off, the spokeswoman added.

Estonia's first offshore wind farms

Last December, the Estonian government approved building permits for three other offshore wind farms.

Permits were granted to: state-owned utility Eesti Energia, which is planning a 160-turbine 1GW wind farm; shipbuilders Baltic Workboats for a 4MW project 200 metres from the coast; and Tuuletraal and its 76-turbine 380MW project.

All of the proposed sites are in the Gulf of Riga.

At the time, Aavo Kärmas, the head of Eesti Energia clean energy subsidiary Enefit Green, said his company aims to commission the 1GW project before 2030.

“There is no experience of building an offshore wind farm in Estonia, so, logically, an offshore wind farm of this size is made in cooperation with several companies. The doors are open for cooperation between partners," he added.

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