The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) will take over the next stage of the development of the Elwind offshore wind farm, jointly constructed by Latvia and Estonia. Taking over the project from the Latvian side, LIAA will oversee the receipt of the necessary permits and environmental impact assessments for the construction of the park. This way, the impact of the implementation of the project on the electricity transmission tariff for consumers will be mitigated.
This comes after Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers examined the conceptual report On the past and future development of the joint Latvian and Estonian offshore wind energy project Elwind, during a meeting of Cabinet Ministers on 13 September.
The completed project will strengthen the energy independence of both countries, ensuring electricity capacity in the amount of 700-1,000 megawatts (MW).
“By implementing the Elwind project, Latvia’s energy security will increase, and energy production costs could potentially decrease in the future. At the same time, the energy we use will become greener,” emphasised Kaspars Rožkalns, Director General of LIAA. “In parallel with the Elwind project, other wind farms of smaller capacity will be developed in Latvia, which means that in the relatively near future we could become exporters of electricity from electricity buyers, producing more than Latvia is able to consume.”
According to the latest feasibility study, the most appropriate location for building an offshore wind farm in Latvia could be on the coast of Kurzeme between Liepaja and Ventspils, which presents the most suitable conditions for the development of the project. The time plan for the Elwind project foresees that environmental impact assessments and all necessary construction permits will be set by 2025, whilst in 2026 it is planned to organise auctions for merchants who want to get involved in the implementation of the project. The deadline for completion of the project is planned for 2030.
According to the survey conducted by the research centre SKDS in April and May 2020, 77 per cent of Latvians support the construction of wind farms.
Implementing the wind farm project will also contribute to achieving other energy and climate-related policy objectives – including energy efficiency, energy security, and greenhouse gas reduction. In addition, the project will make an essential contribution to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal. Taking this into consideration, the project is expected to attract funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for its implementation, thus covering up to half of the total project costs.
Representatives of the Estonian government began negotiations with the Latvian side on the possible joint implementation of an offshore wind farm project in 2019. In December 2019, when the Latvian Minister of Economics met with the Estonian Minister of Economy and Communications, a conceptual agreement was reached on implementing such a project. Subsequently, a Memorandum signed between the Ministry of Economics of Latvia and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications established a non-legally binding framework for the joint management and financing of an offshore wind farm project between the Estonian Ministry of Economy and Communications and the Latvian Ministry of Economics.
The exact distribution of costs and benefits between the two countries will be determined based on the feasibility study results and the cost-benefit analysis. The implementation of the joint project of the Latvian and Estonian offshore wind farm is included in the Latvian National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030.