Offshore wind could cover close to 60 per cent of Poland’s forecasted electricity demand by 2050, according to a report by the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA).
According to the report, Poland would need to develop 28 GW of operating offshore wind capacity in the Baltic Sea to achieve this.
This capacity would be enough to deliver up to 140 TWh of electricity per year, PWEA said in the report – “Vision for the Baltic Sea. Vision for Poland. Development of offshore wind in the Baltic Sea region”.
”If we fully utilise the energy potential of the relatively shallow and very windy Baltic Sea, we can become the region’s leader in installed capacity in offshore wind power,” said Janusz Gajowiecki, President of PWEA.
”Thus, wind farms in the Polish exclusive economic zone of the Baltic Sea will become one of the pillars of the energy transition of the country and our contribution to the implementation of the goals of the European Green Deal.”
Rasmus Errboe, Senior Vice President and Head of Continental Europe at Ørsted Offshore, points out that the European Commission has estimated the need for 450 GW of offshore wind by 2050 to decarbonise the European economy.
“The Baltic Region will play an important role in fulfilling that target, and Poland is well placed to become a regional leader,” Errboe said.
The offshore wind potential of the Baltic Sea is up to 93.5 GW, according to the European Commission’s estimates. Currently, the Baltic Sea is home to offshore wind farms with a combined capacity of 2.2 GW, none of them in the Polish waters.
“Poland is a very attractive emerging market for offshore wind in the Baltic Sea, and one with the best untapped potential in Europe,” said Holger Matthiesen, Head of Offshore Development Scandinavia & Baltics of RWE Renewables.
”With our offshore development projects located around the Słupsk sandbank we are leveraging our capabilities and know-how as the second biggest player in offshore wind globally, to help drive offshore wind energy in Poland forward. However, to bring projects to life a stable government framework is required.”
The key to developing 28 GW in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea is to create a stable regulatory framework with a support scheme for investors, PWEA said. That is why investors have welcomed the publication of the new draft of the Offshore Wind Act, and look forward to the regulations being adopted soon.
This will be a green light for the twelve projects currently under development in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea.
Grid connection conditions have been issued for seven projects with a total capacity of 7,95 GW, and connection agreements have been concluded with the owners of two projects with a total capacity of 2,2 GW.
A more dynamic development of offshore wind farms in the Polish Baltic Sea waters could be facilitated by the removal of administrative barriers, including more frequent revisions of the spatial development plans (every 5 instead of every 10 years), a more flexible approach to the width of migration corridors (instead of the current fixed 4 km width), and allowing for generation of power also in areas designated for other uses, e.g. military or extraction of hydrocarbons, according to PWEA.
Major challenges for the tapping of the Baltic Sea’s full potential include strengthening the interconnection capacity in cooperation with other countries of the region, environmental impact assessment studies, and creating a stable supply chain.
Setting ambitious targets is particularly important for suppliers and sub-suppliers of offshore wind farm components, who need a precise time schedule of projects to make necessary investments in the production plants.
“Offshore wind is not only an energy project. It is also about investments that will be a pillar of the Polish economy in the future. PGE is already working to put the capabilities and expertise of Polish entrepreneurs to best use in order to build PGE’s wind farms in the Baltic Sea. PGE’s climate neutrality target for 2050 is based on efficient renewable energy, and offshore wind in the Baltic Sea has an enormous potential that we are clearly focusing on,” said Wojciech Dąbrowski, CEO of Polish Energy Group (PGE).
According to Grzegorz Górski, COO of Ocean Winds, a company established by a merger of EDPR and Engie, the engagement of experienced, international players is crucial to fully realize the vision of offshore wind development in the Polish Baltic Sea and capture the potential of local content.
“Offshore wind projects are extremely capital intensive investments hence in most of the cases it its necessary to build consortia realizing such project,” Gorski said.
Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Declaration
Tapping the full potential of the Baltic Sea at a low cost will not be possible without initiating a regional cooperation at an early stage of development of offshore wind projects. Hence the importance of the Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Declaration, signed on 30 September by eight Baltic Sea states and the European Commission, and initiating a period of close cooperation on the development of offshore wind projects in the region.
“The Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Joint Declaration of Intent is a great opportunity for Poland to take the next steps jointly with the other countries in the region to investigate and implement new innovative solutions, which will be crucial for the future offshore wind development in the region,” said Errboe.
It applies to coordination in maritime spatial planning, grid development, planning of capacity and support mechanisms. All of these components will be of key importance for the development of a well-functioning internal energy market and cross-border infrastructure, PWEA said.
They will also allow for an effective development of hybrid projects, i.e. offshore wind farms powering two or three countries or being an integral part of an interconnector. Such projects would help maximize the benefits from the development of offshore wind power and reduce the levelized cost of electricity. For example, low-LCOE areas in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea could be used to build wind farms powering western Sweden. In turn, there are similar areas around Bornholm that could be used to provide electricity for Poland.