Russia’s first Arctic wind farm rises outside Murmansk

The park is to start production in May 2022, according to the developer, Enel Russia.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - October 20, 2021
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The Kola Wind Farm is located near the coast of the Barents Sea. (Gov-murman.ru via The Independent Barents Observer)

The Kolskaya Wind Farm will be one of Russia’s biggest when it starts production in mid-2022. Construction has proceeded quickly through the year since a first ship loaded with turbines made port call in Murmansk in late April.

According to regional authorities, 20 of the projected 57 turbines are already standing on the windy stretches northeast of Murmansk City. Blasting works were conducted through October in order to prepare for the building of the remaining installations.

The park is to produce up to 750 GWh per year. It will add surplus energy to the power-rich Russian region.

According to project developer Enel Russia, the park is to start production in May 2022. Development started in 2017 and construction was launched in September 2019.

Project developments have not gone without complications. In July 2020, Enel decided to terminate a contract with construction company Kantreva and instead hire a local company, says Head of Renewables Felice Montanari in the company annual report. The COVID-19 pandemic also troubled progress as company employees as well as subcontractor employees fell ill. It also became difficult to get foreign experts and project staff into Russia.

Production launch was originally set for 2021

The Kolskaya Wind Farm is the first project of its kind that is built in northern Russia. Regional authorities have branded it as a key strategic investment project.

“Green energy and the constriction of the biggest wind power project north of the Polar Circle is of big importance,” Murmansk Governor Andrei Chibis says in a statement. “It is not only because of the investments that are estimated to 23 billion rubles, but also because of the modern technology,” he underlines.

According to Chibis and his administration, the renewable power produced at the park can ultimately be used for the generation of green hydrogen and become the core in a new regional tech industry.

The Kolskaya Wind Farm will have a capacity 201 MW. It is built on a 257-hectare area near the Barents Sea coast.

It will be one of the biggest wind parks in Russia and one of the biggest in the world north of the Arctic Circle. A 210 MW farm is already in operation in southern Russia and several more parks are under development by NovaWind, Fortum and other companies.

The power plant will be built on the very same spot where Dutch company Windlife Energy and its Russian subsidiary Windlife Arctic Power for several years lobbied for the development of a similar wind project.

Those plans, however, never materialized.

The Kolskaya Wind Farm will provide additional power to the Northwest Russian region that from before is a major producer of electricity.  Murmansk Oblast today produces about 60 percent of its energy from nuclear power and the remaining 40 percent from hydropower.

And critics argue that the far northern region actually does not need the additional power generating capacities.