Following agreement between the parties, Van Oord is now a shareholder in Saare Wind Energy. Saare Wind Energy is developing the Saaremaa offshore wind farm in Estonia. The collaboration with Van Oord allows Saare Wind Energy to intensify the development process for this offshore wind farm, as financial support and knowledge are combined. Saare Wind Energy has extensive knowledge of local conditions and the environmental impact assessment. Van Oord, being an experienced offshore wind contractor, has been involved in several early developments of offshore wind farms.
Saaremaa offshore wind farm
Saare Wind Energy is developing an area of up to 200 km2 south-west of the Estonian Island Saaremaa. The area could facilitate an offshore wind farm of over 1,000 MW. The development of the wind farm started in 2015. The Estonian government decided in May 2020 that Saare Wind Energy can proceed with the location permit procedure and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment. In January 2020, Saare Wind Energy and Van Oord agreed to cooperate on the Saaremaa offshore wind farm project. The Netherlands Embassy in Tallinn and the Estonian Investment Agency supported the initiative for this collaboration.
Offshore integration Baltic countries
On 30 September 2020, the energy ministers of Poland, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and Sweden, along with representatives of European Commission signed the ‘Baltic declaration for offshore wind energy’. A joint declaration on the development of offshore wind power and an efficient electricity infrastructure to facilitate the transmission of renewable energy to the Baltic Sea countries. The declaration is intended to bring about cooperation in the development of offshore wind power on the Baltic Sea. Hybrid projects, offshore wind farms in combination with interconnectors to neighbouring countries, will become major footholds for the development of this offshore electricity infrastructure. This marks a change in offshore wind from separate offshore wind farms towards meshed offshore networks and energy hubs.
The Saaremaa offshore wind farm location offers an unique opportunity for such a hybrid project. The combination of good wind resources, an offshore wind location in line with the Marine Spatial Plan and the opportunity to develop interconnectors across the Baltic Sea to Sweden and Latvia, give Estonia the opportunity to take first steps in implementing the vision of the Baltic Sea declaration.