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Estonian govt rules in favor of opening superficies license procedure for Saare wind farm

Estonian news, EWEA news, EWPA news, EWPA's blog, International News - Tuul June 1, 2020

The Estonian government approved an order on Thursday that will open the superficies license procedure and environmental impact assessment for the construction of a 1.7-billion-euro wind farm off the western coast of Saaremaa.

The request for the opening of the superficies license procedure had been filed by the developer Saare Wind Energy OU. The superficies license procedure may end with the issuance of a superficies license or refusal thereof, the government’s communication office said.

The communication office pointed out that, in addition, a decision for the record was adopted at the government’s meeting on Thursday that applications for the opening of superficies license procedures concerning maritime areas will not be handled at government meetings as long as changes to the regulations for the handling of applications for the opening of superficies license procedures concerning maritime areas have not been discussed. Proposals for amending relevant regulations must be made to the government by the minister of economic affairs and infrastructure.

With the decision adopted on Thursday, also the procedure of environmental impact assessment will be opened.

To take account of public interest, the party conducting the procedure must involve in the procedure of environmental impact assessment the ministries of finance, economic affairs and  communications, the environment, the Environmental Board, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior, the Maritime Administration, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Rural Affairs, the National Heritage Board and the municipalities of the region.

The developer of the project, Saare Wind Energy, started the development of the project in 2015. In April of last year, the government decided not to open a superficies license procedure concerning the potential large wind farm for national security considerations, based on an input from the Internal Security Service,

After Saare Wind Energy had challenged the refusal to start the superficies license procedure, a compromise was reached in April this year according to which the decision of the government was to be annulled and the opening of the superficies license procedure decided about within a reasonable amount of time, it appears from the proposal filed by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.

The offshore farm would be situated in the sea at a distance of 10-27 kilometers from the western coast of Saaremaa and would be made up of 100 turbines. The towers of the turbines would be 102 meters high and the maximum height of the turbines would be up to 180 meters from the sea level. The turbines would have a capacity of 6 megawatts each.

The developer has applied for a superficies license for 50 years.

The wind farm would have an annual output capacity of 2,800 gigawatt-hours, which equals 30.9 percent of Estonia’s total electricity output in 2015.

The maximum size of the area to be covered by the superficies license is 154.4 square kilometers.

An undersea cable from the wind farm would run to Saaremaa and from there on to the mainland. In addition, Saare Wind Energy is considering undersea cables to the Haademeeste and Virtsu areas on the mainland.

Estonia’s public broadcaster ERR reported in February this year that Saare Wind Energy has concluded an agreement with the Dutch offshore contractor Van Oord.

“The parties are convinced that the combined knowledge base will facilitate a successful development of the project. The discussions that lead to the agreement were supported by the Estonian Investment Agency, which demonstrates the commitment of the Estonian authorities with respect to renewable developments,” Van Oord said in a press release.

“Van Oord and Saare Wind Energy look forward to intensifying the cooperation with local and national Estonian stakeholders as this is a precondition for the upcoming permit process and the subsequent construction of the project,” it said.

Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8821, majandus@bns.ee

Baltic News Service

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