An inauguration ceremony of the first power link between the Baltic States and the Nordic countries took place simultaneously in Estonia and Finland on December 4, 2006.
The Estlink submarine cable, built in record time, connects the Harku 330 kV converter station outside Tallinn and the Espoo 440 kV converter station near Helsinki, linking, for the first time in history, the electricity markets of the Baltic States and the Nordic countries.
The Estlink submarine cable is one of the priority projects in the European Union’s plan to ensure a continuity of supply in the power system, improve cross-border power infrastructure and help create more efficient power markets in Europe. It is the first common project between Baltic and Finish energy companies and cost a total of 110 million euros. The cable was built mainly to provide the Nordic countries with electricity produced in the Baltic States.
It was inaugurated in the presence of executives from utilities that own the link - Eesti Energia, Latvenergo, Lietuvos Energija — as well as Pohjolan Voima and Helsingin Energia of Finland; EU Energy Commissioner Andries Piebalgs; President and CEO of ABB Fred Kindle and representatives of the Estonian, Finnish, Latvian and Lithuanian governments.
"Today we made history. We have, for the very first time in history, connected power grids of the Baltic States and Finland," said Indrek Aarna, Chairman of the Management Board of Nordic Energy Link. “The building of the cable is finished and we hope to start with the commercial operation as soon as the final tuning of the cable has been conducted by ABB,” added Aarna.
Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Nordic Energy Link and CEO of Eesti Energia Sandor Liive emphasized the significance of further connections in the region and has underlined a prerequisite for a functioning electricity market. "Only when the Baltic power grids are fully connected to Northern and Western Europe may we acknowledge a functioning electricity market in the Baltic States."
The importance of the project lies, primarily, in the improved security of electricity supply in the Baltic States. Estlink allows for electricity trade and provides an alternative electricity purchase channel to cover potential deficits in generating capacity.
"Estlink is more that an energy feat," said ABB President and CEO Fred Kindle. "It brings the EU closer to the goal of creating a European electricity network, and extends the benefits of a reliable power supply with low environmental impact."
ABB designed, built and installed in two parallels the 105-km (65-mile) underground and submarine link using its HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) Light technology. HVDC Light is an advance technology, offering secure power control and quick power restoration in the event of a blackout. Similarly, the technology is environmentally friendly, featuring oil-free cables, no electromagnetic fields, compact converter stations and underground or submarine power lines. The submarine cable is 350 MW and +/- 150 kV DC and will be run from control centers in Harku and Espoo.
Nordic Energy Link was established with the main objective to construct and operate the Estlink cable. In July 2004, the three Baltic power companies Eesti Energia, Latvenergo, Lietuvos Energija, as well as Pohjolan Voima and Helsingin Energia of Finland signed the Shareholders’ Agreement of a joint undertaking for the submarine cable Estlink between the Baltic States and Finland.