'Visual concerns' set to halt one of Finland's biggest wind energy projects

FINLAND: PVO-Innopower (PVOIP) may be required to change its proposed windfarm in the Kristiinankaupunki area from an offshore to an inshore project, following "visual environmental" concerns identified in a report by the City of Kristiinankaupunki's (CoK) Health and Environment Safety Unit (HESU).

Kristiinankaupunki is on Finland's western coast
Kristiinankaupunki is on Finland's western coast

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A preliminary project review report completed by the HESU has raises questions regarding the "advisability of building a large windfarm in as an environmentally sensitive landscape," as the coastal waters near Kristiinankaupunki and Närpiö.

It continues: "Our concern is that the coastal area planned for this windfarm may not be the best choice, and that it may not fit well with the landscape in a visual sense," said Barbro Lundberg, the HESU's senior environmental inspector.

By Finnish standards PVOIP's Kristiinankaupunki-Närpiö windfarm project is very significant in terms of capital cost and size. The company is hoping to erect eighty 3MW to 5MW turbines at Kristiinankaupunki, with a potential installed capacity of between 240 to 400-MW.

The HESU's final report will be presented to the CoK's Committee on Environmental Affairs in April.

"A windfarm of this size can change and spoil the unique landscape in a lasting way," said Lundberg.

The Finnish government's wind-power development strategy, which aims to add an average of 200-MW of capacity a year to achieve its target for 2,000-MW of wind-capacity by 2020, is dependent on mega-projects such as Kristiinankaupunki proceeding to their start-up stage.
The Kristiinankaupunki project, if realised in the expected timeframe of 2010/2011, would similarly help the government reach its target to have upto 500 MW of windpower capacity in place by 2012. However, PVO-Innopower envisages that the project will be realised over a period of two to three years, rather than a complete roll-out in the same year. 

The HESU confirmed that it is engaged in a "dialogue" with PVOIP, and that the company has signalled a willingness to amend its plans to scale-back on the proposed number of units by building 5-MW turbines, while examining the feasibility of erecting 10-MW units after 2012, during the final stage of the project.

PVOIP has reached an advanced stage in the planning process, and the HESU is currently assessing the company's environment impact reports.

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