Estonia seeks truce in military's battle with green energy

By bne IntelliNews July 13, 2016

The Estonian government is seeking to resolve a disagreement between the country's wind power industry and the armed forces, local media reported on July 13.

The planned development of wind power risks impairing Estonia's defence capabilities, the defence ministry warned in January. The military says that wind turbines could hinder the work of radars, compromising reconnaissance and early warning capabilities. However, the wind industry has reacted with horror to efforts to restrict development to just a few spots.

Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso has now set up a working group to try and find a solution for how to build new wind farms in Estonia without disturbing the radars, reports ERR. The initial tasks will be to determine which regions would be suitable for development, and how best they can be built to avoid undermining the country's military capabilities.

Estonia's radar capabilities have become key due to geopolitical tension in recent years. The Nato member state, which borders Russia, has recently been promised that the alliance will strengthen its military presence to deter Moscow from potential aggression. Russian aircraft have been reported to have 'buzzed' several Estonian and Nato vessels in the Baltic Sea over the past year or so.

However, the rotating rotor blades of wind turbines create false targets for radars, the ministry said. Radars are also blind to areas behind turbines, especially those measuring 200 metres in height. Wind turbines could also distort radio communication, the Estonian army claims.

On the other hand, the Estonian wind power industry has been the main driver of growth in the country's renewable energy sector. Power generated from wind power expanded 18% in 2015, compared to 3% growth in for green energy overall.

A number of new wind power plants are planned in Estonia, including investments from state-owned Eesti Energia, which has made investment in wind and solar one of its priorities for the next few years. A manufacturing plant for production of large wind turbines is also in plans. The plant’s investor, Eleon, claims it needs a wind farm in the same area to serve as a development, testing, and demonstration facility, ERR reports.






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