Estonian climate and energy policy envisages a significant increase in the volume of renewable energy production, which is why in order to meet the objectives of national climate policy, it is necessary to find new wind farm development areas in high-potential wind energy production areas, including offshore areas.
The aim of the offshore wind farm project in the Gulf of Riga is to contribute to increasing Estonia's renewable energy production and security of supply in the Baltic Sea region through the establishment of a competitive offshore wind farm.
Pursuant to § 56 (12) of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System, the wording of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act in force for the time of submitting the application for a construction permit (27.02.2010) applies to the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Gulf of Riga wind farm. At the same time, the purpose of preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment is to reduce the administrative burden, ie so that the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment can be used as a basis for issuing both construction permits and further permits needed for the construction of the wind farm (water permit and construction permit) and for avoiding duplicating Environmental Impact Assessment in the future. Therefore, the Environmental Impact Assessment report is prepared using the best possible knowledge and current law in force, but the procedures follow the wording of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act in force at the time of submitting the construction permit application and the decision to accept the construction permit procedure.
In current Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, the decision maker (competent authority) is the The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, the EIA is performed by Skepast&Puhkim OÜ and the developer is Eesti Energia AS.
The basis for initiating the EIA is paragraph 6(1) p.5 of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act, according to which the construction of a wind power plant in a water body is an activity with a significant environmental impact.
The purpose of the Environmental Impact Assessment is to provide the licensor with information on the significant environmental impacts of the proposed activity and its real alternative options and to select the most appropriate solution for the proposed activity to prevent or reduce adverse effects on the environment and promote sustainable development. This means that when preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment program, significant impacts are selected out from the various environmental impacts related to the project or those impacts whose significance cannot be identified in the initial assessment. They will be subject to a in-depth assessment within the framework of the Environmental Impact Assessment report. Insignificant impacts are excluded from the in-depth assessment.
The content of the EIA program is determined by paragraph 13 of the Environmental Impact
Assessment and Environmental Management System Act:
1) the purpose and exact location of the proposed activity;
2) a brief description of the proposed activity and reasonable alternatives therefor;
3) a description of the environment likely to be affected;
4) the relationship of the proposed activity with the strategic planning documents;
5) information on the content of environmental impact assessment of the proposed activity and reasonable alternatives therefor, including information on the potential sources of impact, the size of the impact area and the affected environmental elements of the proposed activity and reasonable alternatives therefor;
6) a description of the methods of assessment used upon environmental impact assessment, including information on the researches required for the environmental impact assessment;
7) a schedule of environmental impact assessment of the proposed activity and reasonable alternatives therefor and the schedule for the publication of the results of the assessment;
8) information on the developer and the name of the expert or the composition of the expert group, indicating and justifying which areas and what impact each person in the group will assess;
9) a list of the authorities concerned, together with the reasons for their involvement;
10) a copy of the application for an activity permit.
The content of the EIA is determined by paragraph 20 of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act and Regulation No. 34 of the Minister of the Environment in force since 01.09.2017 “Specified requirements for the content of environmental impact assessment reports”.
The offshore wind farm is planned in the Gulf of Riga, 10 km away from the island of Kihnu. The development area of the offshore wind farm is determined by the spatial plan of the offshore area bordering Pärnu County.
Building permit area size: 183 km2
Technology selection: to be specified during technical research
Connection: Kilingi-Nõmme 330kV substation
Distance from the island of Kihnu: 10 km
Distance from Häädemeeste: 16 km
Distance from Pärnu Beach: 40 km
The offshore wind farm is designed with a capacity of up to 1,000 MW and with 50-100 wind turbines depending on their height and other technical parameters. Although in 2010, 160 wind turbines were estimated to be needed to build a 1,000 MW wind farm, the expected number of wind turbines was significantly reduced due to the development of wind turbine technology.
The equipment of the wind farm is interconnected by submarine cables. Cables lead to the mainland in the Häädemeeste area as well as to the direction of Latvia when a cross-border connection is established. The exact number and location of wind turbines, substations and anemometers as well as the final location of the transmission line route will be determined as a result of the environmental impact assessment and technical research.
The analysis of the technical solutions for the wind farm in the Gulf of Riga was completed in the beginning of 2023. The conceptual design was prepared by an international engineering and consulting company with many years of experience – BLIX Consultancy. The analysis proposed solutions for the wind farm that would be technically feasible and possible considering the environment. This information is important for developers, authorities, and partners.
BLIX Consultancy analyzed solutions for various wind turbines, foundations, substations, and ground facilities. The developed technical solution will also be used as input for the environmental impact assessment.
The preparation of the project is co-financed by the European Union.