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Wind farm developers not interested in helping pay for new radars

An idea was pitched in the Renewable Energy Support Group of the Riigikogu that wind energy companies could potentially pay for new radars in part themselves. Developers, however, are not interested in the prospect.

While an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) radar scheduled to be completed in 2024 will expand scope of territory where new wind farms may be built in the future, this still won’t be enough in the future. For example, a large part of Ida-Viru County in Northeastern Estonia will still remain off-limits to the construction of new wind farms even after the new radar is built. Thus, more radars will be needed in the future, and Lauri Läänemets (SDE), chairman of the Renewable Energy Support Group, finds that the possible option should be considered that part of the costs thereof are shouldered by private businesses.

“The logic used by various countries has been, for example, that if a radar is built in a certain area and a turbine or wind farm is later built in this area, then some kind of sum is paid per turbine which the business will then put toward whatever the cost of the radar was,” Läänemets said.

According to the support group chairman, the sum may be affected by several factors, but businesses should pay approximately €10,000-20,000 per turbine.

“Of course, if you consider the cost of the radar itself, which is dozens and dozens of millions, then this doesn’t actually cover very much of the radar’s cost, but at least that fairness is there – that renewable energy wind farm developers contribute to national defense,” he continued. “That it isn’t just the state putting it there and someone profits off of it. The other fairness aspect is that perhaps this will also motivate the state to build these radars so that it would be possible to build these wind farms in the first place.”

Läänemetsa finds that this is a matter of common interest between private businesses and the state. Wind Technology Association board member Harry Raudvere disagrees, however, finding that this idea only benefits the state.

“One is the production of renewable energy and the other is national defense, and individuals don’t have to pay for the public interest; that is not an individual’s responsibility,” Raudvere said.

“I’ll give you an example. It’s like the preservation of cultural objects, which is also a major public interest, such as manors, for example,” he explained. “The state pays for these to be maintained; the estate owner does not pay the state for this. So by nature this is very much the state’s problem.”

Raudvere: Who are we defending?

According to the association board member, such a measure may be employed elsewhere, but every country has its own legal regulations, and it would not work this way in Estonia.

“We can’t start contorting our principles based on a few examples,” he said. “The principle is precisely such that a private business has nothing to do with this, and I’ll be quite honest, who are we ultimately defending then, or what public interest is this? Because right now we have ended up the victim in several instances of propaganda that the Estonian state will immediately collapse if it cannot construct these radars, which is in fact in essence a downright lie.”

Läänemets said that there aren’t many areas in Estonia where it would be possible to build wind farms, and the state currently still needs an additional three radars. According to the group chairman, these radars are needed in Ida-Viru County, Lääne County, and Saare County.