Promise of Baltic States still largely unrealised -- Mainly in Estonia

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Wind power maybe in its infancy in the Baltic region, but that could change quite rapidly in the next few years. All three countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have good wind resources, good coastal sites (some of them on former Soviet military bases) and a growing energy demand. Each country is also committed to increasing its share of renewable energy under EU law.

In Estonia, wind capacity increased from 2.45 MW in 2003 to 5.75 MW by the end of last year, a rate of growth that Jaan Tepp at the Estonian Wind Producers Association expects will only increase. He estimates that by the end of 2005, Estonia will have 20 MW of wind power generation. Five turbines are set to go up on the Pakri peninsula near the town of Paldiski in the next month to join the three in place. The ambitious plans of Pakri Tuulepark, a subsidiary of the Norwegian Vardar energy group, could lead to wind power providing up to 56 GWh of electricity, roughly 1% of the country's electricity consumption, or enough to meet the needs of 10,000 homes.

The developer of the project is the Tuulepargid Company, the Estonian subsidiary of small Danish company Global Green Energy. It is confident that more wind projects will follow. Estonia's target is for 5.1% of electricity production to come from renewable sources by 2010 and 10% by 2020. Tepp believes wind power will make this possible, by contributing some 80 MW by 2010.

The Pakri wind plant is one of the first wind stations anywhere to gain its lease of life through sale of carbon credits under a Kyoto Protocol joint implementation program (Windpower Monthly, June 2004). Should the wind plant and its financing model prove successful, the expectation is that similar projects in the region will follow.


Meanwhile in Latvia, initial enthusiasm for wind development, which saw the installation of more than 20 MW of Enercon turbines in 2002, seems to have petered out, with no reports of projects on the way. Latvia's Energy Builders, a private construction company, erected 33 turbines in the west of the country three years ago, but according to the energy ministry wind power capacity still only stands at around 23 MW. A net-metering regulation requiring state energy company Latvenergo to buy electricity from wind plant in excess of the owner's consumption at double the normal tariff may create some market activity. But with hydro electric power dominating Latvia's generation base, it already covers 40% of its electricity needs from renewable sources.

There is perhaps more likelihood of activity this year in Lithuania. Six local authority areas are competing for the right for government licences to erect up to 33 turbines, says Aleksandras Paulauskas of the wind power producers association. He expects the initiative to boost Lithuanian wind power by 33 MW. The country installed its first wind turbine as long ago as 2001, at Skuodas on the border with Latvia, but it was not until 2004 that activity picked up again. A wind farm of six Vestas NM 900 kW turbines was installed near Kretingale, although as yet it is not connected to the national grid. Elsewhere, one Enercon E-40 630 kW was erected at Vydmantai. Lithuania also proved to be an outlet for second hand turbines last year, with a single Wind World 160 kW installed at Telsiai and a smaller 55 kW unit erected near Kaunas.

The national target is for 170 MW by 2010, says Paulauskas. He believes that as much as 600-700 MW of wind capacity could be installed In Lithuania within the next five years or so.

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