The developers of a proposed 2.5GW offshore wind farm in Swedish waters are fighting against military opposition to their plans. Final arguments in an ongoing legal case are due to be heard by mid-November.
If the Blekinge Offshore project is approved, it would boast between 500-700 turbines and would more than double the electricity generating capacity of Sweden’s southern electricity grid, whose consumers currently face higher prices than those served by Sweden’s three other electricity grid networks.
To be located off Sweden’s south east coast, near the island of Hanö, the project would lie 30km from the F17 Kallinge military airbase in Ronneby and 40km from the Karlskrona naval base.
Opposition from Sweden’s military has prevented the venture from proceeding thus far, but the project’s three developers - Eolus Vind AB (55%), Vingkraft AB (35%), and VindIn AB (10%) – are fighting back.
They have taken their case to the Land and Environment Court in Vaxsjö, with final arguments due to be heard by mid-November.
If the court rules in favour of the Blekinge Offshore project, and if remaining permissions are granted in 2013, as anticipated, the developers hope to begin construction in 2014.
Conflicts between wind energy developers and Sweden’s military are not new. Indeed, the country’s minister for information technology and energy, Anna-Karin Hatt, recently highlighted the problem. “Being able to utilize the best wind locations is a national interest. Similarly, it is a national interest that we have armed forces to defend our country,” she wrote on her blog. “Precisely for that reason, it is, therefore, deeply problematic that in recent years we have seen difficulties in several parts of the country when it comes to the ability of wind power and defense to coexist.”
Hatt noted that the government has previously instructed the Swedish Defence Research Agency to study how other countries have successfully resolved such conflicts, and she cited the resulting report. This recommended that the military provide clearer and prompter reasoning for its objections.
Three major utilities, including Vindln, recently criticised the Swedish military for its negative attitude towards wind power in an opinion piece for the country’s leading daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. The Blekinge project would result in an estimated SEK50bn (€5.9bn) in new investment, 200 local jobs and 2,000 industrial jobs nationally, argue the utilities.