Gulf of Riga Offshore Wind Farm – the first offshore wind farm in the Baltics

Eesti Energia has been planning an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga for over 10 years. Ice, wave and wind surveys were started in 2010. The Pärnu maritime spatial plan, started in 2012 and finally established in 2017, provided input for the planning of a wind farm in the Pärnu Bay area. In December 2019, the Government of the Republic of Estonia initiated the building permit procedure and environmental impact assessment. In April 2021, Eesti Energia started cooperating with Ørsted, the world’s leading developer of offshore wind farms, to implement the project of building the first offshore wind farm in the Baltics before 2030.

Project goal

Estonian climate and energy policy envisages a significant increase in the production volume of renewable energy, especially wind energy. The aim of the Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm project is to contribute to meeting Estonia’s climate goals as well as increasing renewable energy production and security of supply in the Baltic Sea region. The offshore wind farm project in the Gulf of Riga being developed by Eesti Energia is currently the most advanced of similar developments in the Baltics. Together with the wind energy development area on the Latvian side, the project has a cross-border dimension and good chances of involving European Union funding.  

Eesti Energia in cooperation with Ørsted, the world’s leading developer of offshore wind farms, wishes to be a leader in the development of offshore wind energy in the eastern Baltic Sea and establish the first Baltic offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga before 2030. 

Location

The offshore wind farm is planned to be located in the Gulf of Riga, 10 km from the island of Kihnu and 16 km from Häädemeeste, near the Latvian sea border. The development area of the offshore wind farm is determined by the county plan of the offshore area bordering Pärnu county.

The Government of the Republic of Estonia has given its consent to initiate the procedure for the construction permit for the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga. What are the next steps and activities of the project?

Once the EIA program is approved, we will continue research in the Gulf of Riga sea area.
First seabed surveys, wind measurements, ice and bird surveys have already been carried out. Studies to date confirm that the location is suitable for an offshore wind farm.
Environmental impact assessments and studies are expected to last at least until the end of 2022. In parallel, a preliminary design of an offshore wind farm will be completed, during which the technical solution and alternatives (where wind turbines, cables, substations, etc. will be located) will be clarified.

When will local people have an opportunity to express their opinion on the development of the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga?

During the process of preparing the EIA program and compiling the subsequent report, we will repeatedly organize formal and informal public discussions, where all interested parties can participate.
At the same time, any suggestions, observations or questions are always welcome on an ongoing basis and directly.

Why is an offshore wind farm being developed in this area?

The area selected for the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga has suitable wind conditions and a suitable depth. In addition, there is the port of Pärnu nearby, that makes maintenance more efficient. The development of a new network connection is also favoring – the third Estonian-Latvian interconnector will be completed in 2021.

How did Eesti Energia acquire the offshore wind farm project in the Gulf of Riga 10 years ago?

On 27 February 2010, Eesti Energia AS according to the amendment made on 27 February 2010 submitted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications an application for a construction permit pursuant to subsection 226 (2) of the Water Act (VeeS) for loading a public water body with an offshore wind farm.

Will the Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm be the first in Estonia?

The development of the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga is currently the most developed of the existing offshore wind farm projects. At the same time, Enefit Green is also developing an offshore wind farm in the Northwest Estonia.

Who will benefit from an offshore wind farm?

The whole nation will benefit from cleaner energy. The construction and maintenance of the wind farm will also create new jobs.
In addition, a subsidy system for local governments is currently being developed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, which will result in regulation of how the local community will also receive direct financial or other benefits from the location of an offshore wind farm in their vicinity.

How would the construction process of the offshore wind farm look like?

The construction of the offshore wind farm starts with the preparation of the seabed, installation of foundations, turbines, substations and cables.

How much will construction activities bother people living on the island and the mainland?

According to today’s assumptions, construction activities will not generate significant noise.
Among other things, we use noise-reducing measures in underwater work. Ship traffic around the port of Pärnu will become a bit more frequent.
In summary, however, the activity will be far from the industrial or residential area, ie interference will be minimal.

What happens if one of the offshore wind turbines breaks down?

The wind turbines are maintained regularly. In the event of a fault, the maintenance team will repair the breakdown.

Will the construction of an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga lead to new power lines? Where?

Yes, up to the main network substation, it is a 330kV line about 40km long. Eesti Energia owns 4 alternative locations for the construction of the onshore substation in Häädemeeste.

Will the completion of the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga reduce the price of electricity for the residents?

For the average consumer, the price of electricity depends on the price level in the Nord Pool market area. Any additional capacity increases supply and has a downward effect on prices. However, it also depends on the production capacity of other producers and thus it is not possible to directly indicate how much the offshore wind farm reduces the price of electricity.

Is there a co-operation with Latvia already?

The development area of the Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm is bordered by the development area provided in the marine plan.
Therefore, this project has the potential to become a joint project of the Estonian-Latvian energy sector.
The Latvian public as well as the state are involved in the preparation of current EIA program and the subsequent report.

Will offshore wind turbines interfere with TV and radio waves?

No.

Do wind turbines emit anything that has a negative impact on the environment, including people?

 The wind turbines do not emit anything, and there is no radiation hazard associated with the wind turbines.

Do wind turbines make noise?

The noise level of modern wind turbines near the wind turbine is about 105dB, which is at the same level as the noise of a lawn mower, for example. The noise level decreases away from the wind turbine. The offshore wind farm is located in 10-16 km from the coast and thus there is no noise that can be heard in the coastal areas.

What impact does an offshore wind farm have on the nature, marine environment, seabed? Do wind turbines pose a threat to birds?

Within the framework of the Estonian Marine Spatial Plan, a nationwide bird survey has been carried out – the study shows that the impact level of the Gulf of Riga wind farm on birds does not block the development of the wind farm.

Wind turbines can endanger birds if there is contact between the bird and the wind turbine blades or the wind turbine itself, ie if a bird flies against the wind turbine or is hit by the blade.
Considering that modern wind turbines have a slow rotation speed and before the wind turbines are placed, a bird survey is carried out in the area of the wind farm in order to avoid the placement of wind turbines on the birds’ travel corridors especially migratory birds, then in real life such a situation is very rare and unlikely to happen.

Which bird species may be endangered?

It always depends on the specific location of the wind farm and previous thorough studies and mitigation measures in order to minimize the potential risk to birds.

Fishing is one of the most important economic activities in the Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm development area – how are we going to research this topic?

During the EIA, we will also study the impact on fish and spawning grounds, conduct spring and autumn herring research, and the impact of the wind farm on fishing

How many wind farms and wind turbines does Eesti Energia have?

Eesti Energia’s subsidiary Enefit Green has a total of 20 wind farms with a total of 165 wind turbines in Estonia and Lithuania, in Estonia Enefit Green currently has a total of 15 wind farms with a total of 106 wind turbines (258,8 MW). The total capacity of 20 wind farms is 398 MW.
The wind farm with the biggest capacity is located in Lithuania (60MW). The most powerful wind farm in Estonia is in Aulepa (48 MW).

When was the last wind farm constructed in Estonia?

The last major wind farms in Estonia – in Paldiski and Narva ash fields – were completed in 2012 to 2013.
Smaller parks, such as those with three windmills, have also been constructed later, the last one in 2016.

How high (smallest, average, highest) are wind turbines in Estonia at the moment and please provide corresponding numbers for Eesti Energia?

The highest wind turbine in Estonia is currently located in Saaremaa – Eleon, 180 m (tower height 122 m). EE’s highest wind turbines are located in Silute wind farm in Lithuania – 170 m (tower height 110 m).

What wind farm projects is Eesti Energia currently working on?

Eesti Energia, together with Enefit Green, is constantly looking for opportunities to develop renewable energy, including wind energy, in all of the Group’s home markets.
There are unfinished wind energy development projects in Estonia, Lithuania and Finland.
In addition to the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga, the EE and EG development portfolio in Estonia also includes Tootsi, Risti, Saarde municipality and Pärnu city wind farms and the Northwest Estonian offshore wind farm

Which project is the most developed, or which wind farm could be the first to be completed?

We hope to build wind farms in both Estonia and Lithuania over the next five years. The most developed is the Tootsi wind farm project.

Has Eesti Energia received any complaints from residents about wind turbines? If yes, which ones and when?

People’s attitude towards wind turbines is mostly positive. If there were any questions, they have mainly been about noise, shadows, flickering and the impact on birds. We have been able to reduce many fears because wind turbines practically don’t generate any noise, shadows and light flicker are prevented to a minimum level in the planning process. We try to prevent problems so that there are no complaints at all.

Does the wind turbine only work when there is wind or can it also be started?

The wind turbine continuously supplies the network when the wind speed is constantly above 3 m/s. 25-35 ms/s is the “cut-out” speed of the wind turbines, ie the wind turbine stops.

Who is Ørsted?

Orsted is a Danish state majority-owned global energy company with more than 6,000 employees. Orsted develops, builds and operates offshore wind farms, onshore wind farms, solar parks, biofuel-based power plants and storage facilities around the world, and provides energy services to its customers.  

When did the cooperation between Eesti Energia and Ørsted start?

The cooperation started in 2020.

Do Eesti Energia and Ørsted have more joint projects?

At the moment, this is the only joint project, but there is definitely a possibility for cooperation in other projects as well. 

How much will the construction of the wind farm cost? 

The cost of the construction depends primarily on how large a wind farm can be built. This will become clear during further research, after which it will be possible to announce procurements and determine the price.

To what extent will Eesti Energia contribute, and to what Ørsted?

It is too early to say exactly what the funding structure of the project will be. Certainly, both companies will contribute their own resources, but we also see a very good chance of involving European Union funding for the project. 

How are Eesti Energia and Ørsted developing the first offshore wind farm in the Baltics?

In order to build the wind farm, Eesti Energia and Ørsted plan to create a joint undertaking which will manage the entire project as a whole and organize funding from both the European Union and own resources. 

 How will the holdings in the joint undertaking be distributed?

The holdings will be determined once the joint undertaking is established.

Is it possible that there will be more shareholders in the joint undertaking? Can states also become shareholders?

We have currently planned two shareholders, but we do not rule out the possibility of more shareholders.

What steps has Ørsted taken in establishing the offshore wind farm?

Ørsted has submitted an application to the Latvian state to study the offshore wind farm development area in the Gulf of Riga where the company wishes to build an offshore wind farm before 2030. In establishing the wind farm, they are going to cooperate with Eesti Energia who is also developing an offshore wind farm in Estonia in the territory next to the development area of the Latvian offshore wind farm.

EIA Program

The EIA program is an initial task created in cooperation with the authorities and local people to carry out further research and plan the wind farm.

Answers to questions received

Questions received during the EIA program publishing period and answers given by experts.

Responsible persons

Oliver Zereen

Eesti Energia AS +372 465 2222 oliver.zereen@energia.ee 

Eesti Energia AS

Tel: +372 46 52 222
E-mail: info@energia.ee
Aadress: Lelle 22, 11318, Tallinn

Ørsted

Tel: +45 99 55 11 11
E-mail: info@orsted.com
Address: Kraftværksvej 53 – Skærbæk, 7000 Fredericia, Denmark