Almost 3,000 MW of offshore wind energy capacity were brought on stream in Europe, particularly in the North Sea, in the last decade, while the Baltic offshore wind power sites have just begun taking shape.
Baltic trio, Finland on their way to harnessing offshore winds
The potential of wind power along the coastal areas of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are similar to some of the sites in Germany and Denmark, but the resources have been untapped so far. The situation may change soon, as Estonian state-owned power company Eesti Energia has revealed plans to build its first offshore wind park in the Gulf of Riga with a potential capacity of 600 MW. The Gulf of Riga wind project would arise in stages, with the first 150 MW currently scheduled to be installed by 2015.
Another, 38-wind turbine park with combined capacity of 190 MW, is being planned by Neugrund on the Neugrund Reef off Estonia's northwestern coast. In addition, Tallinn-based Nelja Energia, or 4Energia, is working on the 700 MW Hiiumaa offshore wind park, which will comprise 200 wind turbines with a capacity of 3-5 MW each.
Latvia is also turning its look at offshore wind power. Local JK Energy Ltd has been planning a 900 MW offshore wind farm since 2009. According to local daily Dienas Bizness, the project, to be located to the north of the Port of Liepaja, would generate electricity neither to be sold on the Latvian market, nor in any other Baltic country. Instead it would be offered to countries in the Central and Western Europe.
A milestone has been reached in Finland's wind industry earlier this year when Finish authorities gave a nod for the Suurhiekka offshore wind farm. Proposed by WPD Finland, the project will be built in the shallows of Suurhiekka, in the Gulf of Bothnia. Construction of the 80-turbine facility could start in 2014, depending on a government decision on a financial support scheme.
Will Baltic Sea become offshore wind energy hub?
Although nearly all of Europe's offshore wind capacity has been so far based in the North Sea, some countries obviously start putting their eggs in the Baltic offshore wind basket. The situation seems to be improving further as two factors are driving the development of an offshore Baltic Sea grid -- the EU's 2020 renewable energy 20% target and the need for improving the security of Europe's electricity supply.