ABB to link Finland and Estonia

Nordic Energy Link has selected ABB, over its French counterpart Areva, to design, construct and install Estlink – a $110 million link connecting the power grids of Finland and Estonia.

Marko Allikson, a member of the management board for Eesti Energia said that the competition for the contract was tough. ‘Both qualified suppliers, ABB and the French group Areva, were technically very strong,’ he said, adding that the decisive factor that clinched the deal for ABB was price.

A construction agreement with ABB will be signed after the necessary exemption has been received from the European Union. The exemption will mean that the users of the cable are charged for its construction costs rather than allowing its costs to be recouped through domestic tariffs.

Estlink will be a direct current cable between two substations – the Harku 330 kV substation in Estonia and the Espoo 400 kV substation in Finland. The total length of the cable is around 100 km, 70 km of which is submarine cable and the rest is underground cable (9 km in Estonia and 20 km in Finland).

Estlink is designed to supply the Nordic electricity market with electricity generated in the Baltics. An estimated 2 TWh of electricity will be transported via the cable. The importance of the project lies, primarily, in the improved security of the electricity supply in the Baltic States and reduced dependence of the Baltic power systems on Russia.

The construction of the Baltic-Finnish submarine cable is currently scheduled to be completed by no later than the end of 2006.

The partners in the Estlink project are the three Baltic power utilities – Eesti Energia, Latvenergo, Lietuvos Energija – as well as Pohjolan Voima and Helsinkin Energia of Finland.

Despite the fact that it lost the contract, the news isn’t all bad for Areva. This week, the company announced that its Transmission and Distribution division has just won two contracts in Tunisia totalling 62 million Euros to build five high-voltage substations and two electricity control centres.