OX2, a company developing, building and managing renewable power generation, is about to commence the environmental impact assessment procedure for two offshore wind power projects in the Gulf of Bothnia Exclusive Economic Zones.
The project areas are located in the Finnish EEZ near western border. Project Halla is located west of the island of Hailuoto and project Laine is located west of the city of Pietarsaari. Large-scale offshore wind farms of up to 160 wind turbines are planned for the investigated areas, which, if completed, will generate a significant amount of environmentally friendly renewable electricity.
“Offshore wind power will increase the wind power capacity in an unprecedented way. That’s why the opportunities offered by the EEZ must also be utilised,” says Teemu Loikkanen, Country Manager for OX2 Finland.
The projects are currently in a very preliminary stage, and the actual electricity production would only start at the end of this decade.
“Projects of this magnitude require exceptional know-how and the ability to execute projects in a controlled manner and taking environment and stakeholders into account, of which we have a wealth of experience as a company: we have developed and executed wind power projects in a number of countries,” Loikkanen points out.
It is both technically and economically feasible to have electricity production and consumption close to one another. Halla’s location close to Raahe could provide opportunities for cooperation with SSAB, a company seeking to produce fossil-free steel. And indeed, a new reinforced connection to the national grid is currently being planned for the company’s Raahe mill.
“As a matter of fact, one option is that the grid connection for the project will be made directly to SSAB’s mill,” says Loikkanen.
Exploration permit possibly during this year
In addition to the environmental impact assessment, a special exploration permit is required for the commencement of business projects and the conduct of seabed surveys in the offshore EEZ. The actual permit process (water permit and right to exploit the EEZ) will take place later. The exploration permit is presented by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, which will also obtain statements from the relevant parties. The permit will be issued by the Government. OX2 filed exploration permit applications in May 2021 and expects to receive decisions later this year.
“Offshore wind power adds to the wind power capacity in an unprecedented way. It will play a key role in Finland’s efforts to combat climate change and in Finland’s electrification. The production of green hydrogen and the electrification of industrial processes, as well as data centres, will require an immense amount of renewable electricity production. If Finland wants to compete for these investments, offshore wind power is, in our view, the most competitive way to produce renewable electricity at the end of this decade,” Loikkanen concludes.
Offshore wind power is the only large-scale solution to Finland’s renewable electricity needs, which means that the areas within the EEZ are important as well. Elsewhere in Europe, there are many similar offshore wind projects currently underway, and projects have already been taken to an advanced stage in Sweden’s EEZ as well.