Offshore project rumblings

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Even though the Estonian government finalised a rule capping wind power production at 400 GWh annually back in March, 4Energia says it is moving ahead with plans for the country's first offshore plant. If built, the planned 200 turbines and total generating capacity of 600-1000 MW will deliver far more than 400 GWh a year. 4Energia hopes to start construction of the EUR 2 billion plant, to be located just off Hiiumaa island on Estonia's north-western coast, around 2010-2012. "For this project the current cap is definitely too small," admits the company's Martin Kruus. "But this is quite a special case and there are no rules exactly in place yet around offshore installations." By 2012, he says, "There will be a whole new set of energy discussions both in Estonia and the Nordic market." An environmental impact study is currently underway for the Hiiumaa plant, but Kruus says preliminary impact research undertaken in conjunction with the country's environment ministry looks positive. "There isn't any special protected area here, no special fisheries," he says. Under the plan, the turbines are to be situated about 11 kilometres offshore. Discussions are also underway about connecting Hiiumaa's electricity output to Finnish undersea cables approximately 100 kilometres to the northeast, Kruus says, or even building an undersea connection to Sweden, approximately 200 kilometres northwest. 4Energia's partners in the project are Norway's Vardar Eurus AS and Estonian company Freenergy AS, which each have a 45% share in the project. Meanwhile, another Estonian company, newly formed Neugrund, also has offshore plans. It is working on preliminary surveys for a plant comprising 27-29 turbines off the northwest coast of the country near Osmussaar Island.

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