We spoke with Heike Winkler, Managing Director of WAB (Wind and hydrogen association and innovation cluster WAB e.V.) the largest German organization of supply chain representatives for the offshore wind sector on cooperation in the implementation of projects in the Baltic Sea. We met on the occasion of preparations for the WINDFORCE Baltic Sea 2022 conference organized by WAB and PTMEW in Gdansk on November 15-16.

Paweł Wróbel, BalticWind.EU: Can Polish-German cooperation in the offshore wind development have a special character? Is the fact that Poland and Germany are neighbours and have extremely intensive economic relations relevant here?

Heike Winkler, WAB Managing Director: The offshore wind industry has always had an international character and has bridged many national borders in Europe with close collaborations along the value chain. The last two WINDFORCE Baltic Sea conferences in Gdansk in 2019 and before that in 2014 already served the purpose of bringing the supplier industry of both countries closer. This cooperation to create sustainable supply chains for Europe will be the best way from our perspective to be able delivering the goals set for offshore wind sector in present and next decades. The current energy crisis shows all Europeans how critically important the security of energy supplies is. With the growing offshore wind expansion targets, the international cooperation of the supply industry is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, we cooperate with the Polish Offshore Wind Energy Society PTMEW and organize the WINDFORCE Baltic Sea for the first time this year as a cooperation event.

Should we treat the WINDFORCE Baltic Sea conference as a single initiative, or does it fit into the concept of longer cooperation?

This year’s WINDFORCE Baltic Sea Conference is already the sixth WINDFORCE dedicated to the offshore wind market in the Baltic Sea region and the 19th conference in the WINDFORCE series overall. WINDFORCE Baltic Sea has already brought together numerous partners in the region since its debut in Stockholm in 2013, contributing to the sustainable development of the industry across countries. Most recently, the series took a Corona break. Therefore, we are very happy that we can meet again on site in Gdansk!

Who can benefit from such initiatives? How to turn good relations into concrete projects and partnerships?

The WINDFORCE Baltic Sea offers a unique focus on the challenges in the Baltic Sea region. The conference targets on experiences and questions concerning offshore wind energy in the Baltic Sea region and promotes cooperation between companies, countries and the twin city’s Gdansk and Bremen. At the event, a joint venture between two partners will be signed and we are looking forward to many further cooperations. Another example is the cooperation between our member Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences and Gdynia Maritime University for the Executive Offshore Wind MBA in Poland . Especially education and qualification is an essential aspect that benefits from international cooperation. We are very pleased to cooperate with the PTMEW as well as with The Pomeranian Platform for the Development of Offshore Wind Energy in the Baltic Sea. It is all about exchange and networking.

Besides companies, is there any room for partnership at the level of regional authorities, local stakeholders? What is the importance of such cooperation?

Not only developers and suppliers, but also governments at all levels should collaborate across borders to secure the continuous deployment of a growing number of offshore wind projects. It is great to see that the Hanseatic cities of Bremen and Gdansk already teamed up for a city partnership more than 45 years ago. This strengthens the mutual understanding and trust needed to make industry cooperation’s a success.

More info about the conference: https://windforce.info/balticsea-2022/