The environmental impact assessment program of Utilitas Wind’s Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm was made public

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) program for the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm has been completed. The Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm is located in the Gulf of Riga in an area suitable for the development of wind energy according to the county planning of the marine area bordering Pärnu county.

The environmental conditions of the planned offshore wind farm area largely arise from the general characteristics of the Baltic Sea. There are fitting wind conditions in the area of the offshore wind park with South-West winds prevailing and providing the most opportunity for energy production. The depth of the sea in the area is 10 m to 30 m, which is optimal for the construction of an offshore wind farm.

The EIA program outlines the expected significant impacts of the planned activities, the methods of forecasting and the assessment of these impacts, and the studies to be carried out. As part of the EIA, impacts on nature, cultural heritage, social and economic environment, and ship and air traffic are assessed and visualizations are carried out.

Arising from the environmental restrictions that emerged at the time of the EIA program and during the preparation of the program, a primary alternative is also examined – an offshore wind farm with up to 160 electric wind turbines, where the distance between the wind turbines would be approximately 1 km.

“In the situation of an energy crisis, the rapid addition of new renewable energy capacities is extremely important for all of society, because it secures our energy independence, lower energy prices, and offers significantly less burden on the natural environment compared to fossil fuels. The offshore wind farm is the most realistic solution for Estonia to achieve energy independence in this decade. We have signed contracts to carry out the environmental studies outlined in the decision to initiate the superficies license, and most of them are already underway or in preparation,” explained Kristiina Nauts, Head of planning and environmental impact assessment at Utilitas Wind.

Considering the location of the planned wind farm, the EIA process is cross-border. The publication of the EIA program will take place in Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and Finland simultaneously. The EIA program is compiled by the environmental consulting company Roheplaan OÜ in cooperation with Hendrikson&Ko OÜ, the Estonian Maritime Institute of the University of Tartu, and several other experts. The leading EIA expert is Riin Kutsar. Public discussions take place on October 17 at 11:00 a.m. in the Kihnu community center and on October 19 at 5:00 p.m. in Pärnu, at Suur-Sepa 16, floor 3.

Areas suitable for offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Riga were determined by the county plan for the marine area bordering Pärnu County, established in 2017. TTJA initiated the building permit procedure for Utilitas Wind’s Saare-Liiv offshore wind farm at the end of 2021. Utilitas Wind’s goal is to receive the necessary permits for construction in 2025, so that by 2028, at the latest, the Saare-Liivi offshore wind farm could be producing environmentally friendly electricity. In the first stage of the development, according to the technical conditions issued by the grid company, approximately 80 wind turbines are planned to be built, with a total capacity of 1200 MW and expected annual electricity production exceeding 5 TWh.