The 350-MW Estlink submarine cable connecting the electricity markets of the Baltic States and the Nordic countries began commercial operation on Jan. 4, 2007. Built in record time, the cable connects the Harku 330-kV converter station outside Tallinn, Estonia, and the Espoo 440-kV converter station near Helsinki, Finland. ABB designed, built and installed in two parallels the power link using its HVDC light technology.

A priority of the European Union, the cable was the first common project between Baltic and Finnish energy companies, and cost a total of 110 million euros. Partners in the project are Eesti Energia, Latvenergo and Lietuvos Energija in the Baltic States and Pohjolan Voima and Helsingin Energia in Finland.

Prior to the completion of the cable some obstacles occurred during testing but have been fixed temporarily. “In order to solve the problem and bring the equipment in accordance with the contract, ABB has ordered an additional solution, which will be installed at the Espoo and Harku converter stations in spring of 2007,” said Indrek Aarna, chairman of the management board of Nordic Energy Link.

The Estlink cable consists of both a submarine and an underground cable. In total, 210 km (130 miles) of cable was manufactured for the construction of the power connection between Estonia and Finland, of which the submarine cable constitutes 148 km (92 miles) and the underground cable 62 km (38 miles). The primary purpose of the Estlink cable is to supply the Nordic electricity market with electricity produced in the Baltic States. An estimated 2 TWh of electricity will be transported annually via the cable.

Now that Estonia and Finland are connected, the plans are to eventually connect them to Europe. “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,” said Sandor Liive, chairman of the supervisory board of Nordic Energy Link and CEO of Eesti Energia.