Estonia and Latvia launch third electricity connector

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Estonian grid system operator Elering and Latvia’s utility AST have launched a new electricity connection between their countries.

The €172 million ($202.1 million) project is the third electricity connector between the two countries and comprises more than 360km of powerlines, 972 pylons, and has a total capacity of 600MW.

On the Estonian side, the transmission line is 190km long, comprises 463 pylons, and has been built by Empower and Leonhard Weiss.

The EU-funded project falls under efforts to synchronise the Baltic electricity network with the continental European system and reduce reliance on the Russian grid.

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The interconnector is expected to reduce electricity congestion at the borders of the two countries, which caused price differentials over the past years.

The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency stated that it provided €112 million ($131.6 million) in funding for the project to improve the security of supply and to strengthen the grid for the two countries. The funding was provided through the Connecting Europe Facility.

The connector will be used to transport an increasing amount of renewable wind energy to help Estonia and Latvia decarbonise their grids in line with the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions targets. Taavi Veskimägi, Chairman of the Management Board of Elering, said the project will encourage the development of new offshore wind energy capacity.

Kaja Kallas, the Prime Minister of Estonia, added: “In order to meet climate and renewable energy goals, Estonia plans to invest in the development of offshore wind farms. Strengthening the electrical connections between Estonia and Latvia allows us to connect the production capacities of renewable energy into the power grid to a great extent and creates opportunities for other offshore wind farm developments.”

Between January and July 2021, the network has transported more than 200 million kWh of electricity.

In the future, the connection will, in turn, be connected with a submarine network that will be jointly built by the system operators of the countries bordering the Baltic Sea.