Cable manufacturer Prysmian Group: The attitude of Estonian people towards wind farms is good (ehitusuudised.ee)

Cable manufacturer Prysmian Group: The attitude of Estonian people towards wind farms is good (ehitusuudised.ee)

22 Mar 2022

In October last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications commissioned Kantar to carry out a survey in order to get an unbiased view on the attitude of Estonian citizens on wind energy. “The opinion survey on wind farms showed that the attitude towards wind farms is actually much better than the media picture suggests,“ says Tanel Laasma, Manager of Medium and High Voltage Sales at Prysmian Group Baltics AS.

In the course of the survey it was found out that that the key words associated with wind farms are electricity, energy, wind turbines, green and windy, wind farms are also associated with nature and environmental friendliness, renewable energy and renewable resources. The most important of the European Union's climate targets for citizens is increasing the efficiency of energy production, which is considered very important or somewhat important by 90%. Solar is the preferred energy source, followed by geothermal energy, wind and hydro energy. Citizens say that Estonia should produce the electricity it needs itself, and some could also be produced for export.

72% of citizens support the expansion of offshore wind farms and 62% of onshore wind farms. Vibration is considered to be the most significant negative impact of wind farms, and there are fears that they will lead to changes in property and land prices and cause shading/light flicker. 35% of citizens are very positive or somewhat positive about an onshore wind farm near their home or summer residence. People are slightly more supportive of an offshore wind farm close to home – 64% are either somewhat positive or very positive.

The survey (in Estonian) is published HERE.

Cables play a crucial role in the reliability of a wind farm

European Union countries are committed to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, thereby moving towards a climate-neutral economy – a goal that will require a shift to renewables. Europe's modern wind farms should produce around half of the electricity needed, wind energy experts say. According to Tanel Laasma, quite a few wind farms have already been built in Lithuania, for example, but Estonia is still in early stage in this issue. “Until now it seemed that we are very afraid of wind farms, but the survey showed that the attitude is much better than expected. So it is to be hoped that some wind farms in Estonia will get the green light this year, as renewable energy solutions have become more of a focus in society, helped by the recent volatility in energy prices.“

He adds that as the world's largest cable manufacturer, the Prysmian Group has a wealth of experience in wind farm construction, including in the Baltic States. At the end of last year, a modern wind farm with a total capacity of 70 MW was completed in Telšiai, Lithuania, covering the energy needs of around 78 300 households. Prysmian Group manufactured nearly 210 kilometres of submarine cables for the project. In Latvia, Prysmian Group has manufactured cables for Targa and in Lithuania for the Medinos/Dargužu wind farm. There are currently three other projects under way in Lithuania: Degaiciai, Kamajai and Kikonys. In Estonia, the construction of the Tootsi wind farm is pending and the tender for the Purtse wind farm is being decided.

Wind farms are characterised by uncontrollable capacities: the wind blows exactly when it blows and cannot be controlled. And that is why the load curve can be very different from the load curve of conventional electricity networks, where the load is high during the day – and the cable warms up under the load – and the load is low at night and the cable cools down under the lower load. If the operating temperature of the cable is high over a long period of time, it will start to dry out the surface around the cable, which means that the surface will be less able to conduct heat away from the cable. And because of this, it has a counter effect on the cable, which in turn heats up even faster.

It should also be remembered that the warmer the cable, the higher the power losses. Since capacity (MWh) is what is sold to the grid, capacity losses have a direct economic impact on the manufacturer. Therefore, the minimum allowable cross-section calculated on the basis of the allowable load current may not always be the most economically viable solution for the manufacturer.

Prysmian Group draws attention to the need to use cables compliant with Nordic standards for Baltic sites. "The main difference between Northern and Southern European cables is the cold resistance of the plastics used. This is why Nordic cables are also suitable for use in colder conditions. In addition, we strongly recommend the use of cables with not only longitudinal but also transverse water resistance. Transverse water resistance is provided by an aluminium laminate under the outer sheath of the cable. However the plastic outer sheath does not guarantee 100% water resistance,“ explains Laasma. “In today's challenging economic climate, it is important to bear in mind that compliant cables may not always be available, and some resellers may suggest replacing the requested product with something else. It is a good idea to be reasonably precise in your requirements and, where possible, always refer to country-specific requirements. Otherwise, the result can be that a cable is supplied that is not really designed for Northern European conditions.“

Submarine cables are installed also in the most extreme environments

Prysmian Group Baltics, based in Keila, is part of the world's largest cable manufacturing group, the Prysmian Group, which has a wide range of cables, as well as strong know-how for wind farm construction. The company has developed a submarine cable with non-metallic armour specifically for deep water constructions, enabling Prysmian Group to carry out installations at depths of up to 3,000 metres, providing customers with all the submarine cable lines they need.

“Our aim is to offer a complete solution for wind farms – we manufacture medium and high voltage cables, as well as cable connections (sleeves). This gives developers and customers peace of mind that the whole kit has been tested electrically in an independent laboratory and is reliable,“ says Laasma. “Our product range also includes PRY-CAM, an online diagnostic device for partial discharge, which can monitor the condition of the network and network equipment. The monitoring of partial discharge allows problematic components to be replaced early enough to avoid potential disruptions that could also damage equipment.“

He adds that Prysmian Group Baltics is always there to help developers - with materials, standards and high voltage projects. “We have extensive experience in providing complete solutions both in the Baltics and around the world. There is no point in inventing a bicycle if all the know-how is there! Offshore wind energy in the Baltic Sea has a large unused potential and offshore wind farms can be an important contributor to achieving Estonia's climate targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.“

Prysmian Group operates in 50 countries. The Group has 106 plants and 25 research and development centres and it employs around 30 000 people worldwide. The plants have some of the world's largest production capacities in their categories and are able to support the most complex, cutting-edge projects. The Keila plant was one of the first in the Baltics to invest in an ISO quality management system in the 1990s. For the last five years or so, 100% of energy used in the plant for the production is green energy.

 

The article (in Estonian) was published on the site Ehitusuudised.ee.