On Monday, 7 August, the initial public consultation on the Latvian-Estonian offshore wind park project ELWIND was held. The park is planned to be built on the Kurzeme coast between Pāvilosta and Jūrkalne, 15 km from the coastline, and will potentially provide up to 20% of Latvia’s electricity needs, thus significantly strengthening our country’s energy independence.

To inform people about the project, information seminars were organised last week in Pāvilosta and Jūrkalne, where residents had the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers about the planned construction.

“I would like to thank the residents for their active participation and opinions expressed at the public consultation event. This will allow us to better define the terms of reference for the studies foreseen in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure. We will study both fish and bird movement routes and the condition of the ground and potential contamination by wartime unexploded ordnance. All aspects will be taken into account to minimise the environmental impact of this project,” said Laura Štrovalde, Deputy Director for Investment at the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).

LIAA presented the offshore wind project ELWIND at the public consultation event and information seminars. The information seminars were also attended by the Latvian Wind Energy Association, Green Liberty and World Wildlife Fund. The outline of the offshore wind project ELWIND, the next steps of the EIA procedure and the planned research plan were discussed, which will provide answers to both ecological and social questions on the potential impacts of the offshore wind park and the measures to be taken to mitigate these impacts.

The events were well attended. Residents were mainly concerned about the potential impacts on their daily lives, the environmental landscape and economic activities. In response to comments, the economic activities of the local population are mainly based on tourism development. The development of green energy is important, while there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the large Latvian green energy projects and overall capacities.

In a meeting with the project promoters, residents pointed out that a significant number of energy projects are planned in Latvia in the coming years, will this not lead to an oversupply of electricity? The answer to this question lies in the expected increase in electrification in both the transport and industrial sectors, as well as the development of electricity transmission interconnections with other countries, which will facilitate energy exports. Latvia has all the necessary conditions to become a major energy exporter, thus contributing to the growth of its domestic economy. Offshore wind parks would be the basis for such an initiative, as Latvia has a potential of 15 GW of offshore wind. Offshore wind will also contribute to the development of supply chains and innovation through the creation of new component manufacturing plants, the development of port infrastructure, and the training of employees who would also participate in the management of these wind parks throughout their life cycle.

What will happen to local tourism? How will the landscape be affected? Why here? These are just some of the questions that came up during the public consultation discussions. These and other questions will be answered in detail during the EIA, which will also assess the criteria for the location of the offshore wind park.

The presentation included examples from other countries where such offshore wind parks have already been built and are operating successfully. The ELWIND project is still at a relatively early stage, so work is now starting on the EIA studies, which will be followed by a public consultation.

The ELWIND project is expected to attract around EUR 600 million to Latvia through various supply chains, creating 3000 new jobs and up to 100 start-ups.

The next steps of the project include EIA studies, which have already received EUR 18.7 million in co-funding from the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).

The initial public consultation on the offshore wind project ELWIND runs from 11 July and questions about the project can still be sent to elwind@liaa.gov.lv until 11 August.

More about the project: https://www.liaa.gov.lv/lv/elwind-aktualitates