According to current assumptions, construction activities will not generate significant noise. Ship traffic around the port of Pärnu will become a bit more frequent. The activities will mostly be in industrial areas, far from residential areas, so disturbance will be minimal.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Program
for the farm was approved in 2021, and the
studies provided for in the program began in
the sea area of the Gulf of Riga in 2022.
First seabed surveys, wind measurements, ice and wild bird surveys have already been carried out. The existing studies confirm that the location is suitable for an offshore wind farm.
Environmental impact assessment and studies are expected to last until the end of 2023.
At the same time, a preliminary design of the offshore wind farm will be completed with the technical solution and alternatives (locations for the wind turbines, cables, substations, etc.).
Eesti Energia has organized both formal and informal public discussions during the preparation of the EIA program. The next major step under public discussion will be the EIA report. The developer regularly meets with representatives of the local governments involved in the project, and any suggestions, observations or questions are welcome on an ongoing basis.
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 third Estonian-Latvian connection completed in 2021 also favours the development.
On 27 February 2010, Eesti Energia submitted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications an application for a building permit pursuant to Section 226 (2) of the Water Act for burdening a public water body with an offshore wind farm.
The development of the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga is currently the most advanced among existing offshore wind projects – a building permit procedure is underway, there is a valid offshore wind energy maritime spatial plan, and an environmental impact assessment program has been approved.
The whole of Estonia will benefit from clean energy. Offshore wind farms are the best way for Estonia to produce renewable energy on a scale that will bring us closer to climate goals and greater energy security. Wind farms are an existing and available technology; it is immediately possible to start building them. There is a great shortage of CO2-free electricity generation capacities in Estonia and in our neighbouring countries. We should add as much renewable electricity in the Baltics as we can over the next ten years. We will need at least one offshore wind farm this decade.
For people living in the vicinity of the wind turbines, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is developing a model of local benefits that provides direct subsidies to municipalities bordering an offshore wind farm. Based on this, the local community will receive direct financial benefits from the the offshore wind farm located in their vicinity.
Municipalities close to the wind farm will also benefit from the jobs created for the construction and maintenance of the wind farm as well as the business opportunities that come with such a major project.
The offshore wind farm will be built in several stages. The first stage of construction is the preparation of the seabed for the installation of foundations, the preparation of the foundations in a port adapted for this purpose, their transport to the sea and installation in the designated places. The installation of the cables between the wind turbines, export cable and substations will follow, and the last stage before connecting the wind farm to the power network will be the transport and installation of the wind turbine masts and blades.
Along with the wind farm, a maintenance base will be built, preferably to a nearby port. Through this base, technicians perform regular maintenance on the wind turbines and are ready to rectify faults. The output and technical condition of the wind turbines are monitored in real time, and we will immediately find out about equipment failures or other problems.
In order to bring the electricity from the wind farm to the shore, both a submarine cable and an onshore power line to the transmission network connection point are required. For the construction of this route, the Ministry of Finance will prepare a national special plan and conduct an environmental impact assessment. As a result of the national special plan, it will be determined where the route will be located and at what point it will be connected to the transmission network.
For conventional consumers, the price of electricity depends on the price level in the Nord Pool market area. Each additional renewable energy production capacity increases the volume of electricity available at a favourable price and thus has a downward effect on prices. Wind and solar are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly ways of producing energy and always the first to enter the market.
The development area of the Gulf of Riga offshore wind farm is bordered by the development area provided for in the maritime spatial plan. Therefore, it has the potential to become a joint project of the Estonian-Latvian energy sector. The Latvian side is involved in both the preparation of the EIA program and the report.
Enefit Green acquired the project from Eesti Energia in the March of 2023. in the Enefit group, the subsidiary Enefit Green is the renewable energy developer. According to the cooperation agreement signed when the company was listed on the stock exchange in 2021, Enefit Green had the right to acquire the project on market terms. This transaction was completed in 2023. The transition within the group does not change the development principles, and the cooperation with local communities continues in the same form.
The effects of wind turbines, including the possible effects on telecommunications equipment, have been thoroughly studied worldwide. The results of these studies do not suggest that the wind turbines would interfere with television or radio.
The potential effects of wind turbines on people, including infrasound, have been thoroughly studied and scientists have not identified anything harmful. The wind turbines do not emit anything, and there is no radiation hazard associated with wind turbines.
The noise level of modern wind turbines in close proximity is about 105dB, which is the same as the noise of a lawn mower, for example. Away from turbines, the noise level drops significantly and is already less audible when standing at the foot of the wind turbine. The offshore wind farm is located 10-16 km away from the coast and thus there is no noise that can be heard in the coastal areas.
Within the framework of maritime spatial planning in Estonia, a nationwide wild bird survey has been carried out – it shows that the impact level of the Gulf of Riga wind farm on wild birds does not hinder 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, that is if a bird flies against a wind turbine or is hit by a blade. The surveys provide us with information about wild bird migration routes and flight corridors, so we avoid building wind turbines in those areas to reduce the risk of collisions.
During the EIA, we will study the impact on fish and their spawning grounds, conduct spring- and autumn-spawning herring research as well as the impact of the wind farm on fishing opportunities. In addition, the state has commissioned a comprehensive survey of Baltic herring in Estonian waters.
The last major onshore wind farms in Paldiski and in the Narva ash fields were completed in 2012–2013. Smaller farms, such as those with three wind turbines, have been constructed later, too; the last one in 2016.
The tallest wind turbine in Estonia is currently located in Saaremaa – Eleon, 180 m (tower height 122 m). Eesti Energia's tallest wind turbines are located in Silute Wind Farm, Lithuania – 170 m (tower height 110 m).
In addition to the Liivi offshore wind farm, Enefit Green is also developing the Hiiu offshore wind farm, completion of which is planned after 2030. The company also has six onshore wind farms in Estonia, Lithuania and Finland and four solar farms in Poland and Estonia under active construction.
Of the offshore wind farms under development in Estonia, Gulf of Riga Offshore Wind Farm has the strongest prerequisites to be completed by 2030, as the project has a valid maritime spatial plan, a building permit procedure has been initiated, an environmental impact assessment program has been approved and studies are underway.
So far, no offshore wind farms have been
established in Estonia, which is why there
are no complaints about them. With regard to
onshore wind turbines, people living near
them tend to have a neutral or positive
attitude. If there were any issues, they
have mainly been about noise, shadows,
flickering and impact on birds. We have been
able to reduce many fears because wind
turbines generate almost no noise, and
shadows and light flickers are prevented to
a minimum in the planning process.
As the offshore wind farm will be more than 10 kilometers away, there will be very little disturbance on the shore.
Electricity can be generated from wind both at sea and on land. Building an offshore wind farm is certainly more complex and expensive, and therefore requires more investment. On the other hand, the output of an offshore wind farm is more stable because the wind conditions are more even, and a farm many times larger in production capacity can be built at sea than on the coast or inland. Onshore, wind speed is affected by artificial objects in addition to natural conditions, and it is not possible to build a farm with a very high production capacity. However, setting up such a farm is easier and cheaper.
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 procurement, and then the price will be determined.