The costs of wind farm projects both on land and at sea (offshore wind farms) are measured in hundreds of millions. From project planning to the first kilowatts produced, representatives of countless industries are involved in the process, and direct benefits are expected not only for the energy industry and electricity producers. Latvian Wind Energy Association (LWEA) explains what involvement of companies is most needed, and how can national economy benefit from a construction of new wind farms.
“Latvia has prioritized the use of renewable energy, which means that in the coming years more and more wind parks will be built and the involvement of various industries and companies will be necessary. Currently, there is only one success story of a Latvian company operating in the wind energy sector – Aerones, but there will be more and more such example, as long as we know how to use the potential of wind farms,” says Toms Nāburgs, head of the Latvian Wind Energy Association.
Tārgale wind park is the newest wind park built in Latvia. During the construction, the biggest beneficiaries among local companies are builders, building material suppliers and logistics service providers, concluded Renārs Urbanovičs, board member and leading project implementer at Utilitas Wind in Latvia. Urbanovičs explains that although the largest part of investments in such projects goes to turbine manufacturers, these companies also use local resources.
“On average 0.3 million euros investment per 1 MW in a completed wind farm go to design, construction and network connection works, which are mostly provided by local entrepreneurs using local resources. In general, the average investment per 1 MW of wind energy installed is 1.4 million euros, most of which go to the turbine manufacturer, but this amount also includes the services used by turbine manufacturers locally – transportation of turbine parts, logistics, delivery and transshipment in ports,” says Renārs Urbanovičs, member of the board of Utilitas Wind and the leading project implementer of the Tārgale wind park.
Elaborating further, he explains that only local service providers are used in planning the topography and road design, but the availability of local specialists in the design of wind turbine foundations is not that wide. In general, a very small part of the investments required for design, construction and the creation of network connections is directed to foreign entrepreneurs, and with the wider development of wind parks, such specialists have the opportunity to expand their businesses in Latvia as well. Local builders construct and build wind farm access roads, turbine foundations and piles, electrical connections to substations. Likewise, local resources are used in the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. If a specific part of the construction (for example, construction of foundation reinforcement) is performed by foreign crews, they rent local equipment. Raw materials for the aforementioned works are purchased by wind park developers and builders in Latvia.
Urbanovičs points out that the development of wind farms also has a significant benefit for local energy sector specialists, because although there is a shortage of them, more and more foreign companies are hiring and training local employees for turbine maintenance and other works. Four new jobs were created for maintenance work in the Tārgale wind park.
In order to kick-start the discussion about the shortage of professionals in the industry and whether Latvia should take any support measures for the training of new specialists on a national scale, LWEA will hold a webinar of the parties involved on Global Wind Day on June 15. The discussion will be available on LWEA’s Facebook page.