Dutch contractor Van Oord and Saare Wind Energy have agreed jointly develop the early stage 600MW Saaremaa offshore wind project south-west of the Estonian island Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea.

Saare Wind had started the development of the project in 2015 on basis of a thorough analysis and ample spatial planning experiences.

The next phase in the development process includes the start of an environmental impact assessment which will be initiated after receiving a positive decision from Estonian authorities, Van Oord said, adding that the discussions that lead to the agreement were supported by the Estonian Investment Agency.

The 154-square-kilometre site offers an excellent opportunity for the construction of an offshore wind farm because of its location in the Baltic Sea in relation to the main wind direction, the contractor added. It could also function as a foothold for the development of an international Baltic grid.

The permit process is for a 60 MW project though the area of 154 km2 could allow for a higher capacity, Van Oord told Recharge.

The small Baltic nation so far has no offshore wind turbines in operation, but several projects are in various stages of development.

Among them is the Liivi Bay (Riga Bay) project in the Gulf of Riga, which may be developed jointly by Estonian state-owned utility Eesti Energia and a partner in neighbouring Latvia.