After the North Sea, the Baltic Sea will be the next driving market for the offshore wind sector in Europe. As BalticWind.EU we observe that the wind industry from the Baltic countries is not sufficiently involved in European discussions about the future of the wind sector, although the interest itself is growing. The Baltic Sea Region should take an active part in the European discourse and promote more of its own potential, technologies, and ambitions.
The annual WindEurope conference kicks off today. This time the European industry will meet in Bilbao. BalticWind.EU is a regional partner of the event. At the conference, we will be looking from the perspective of topics important for the countries of the Baltic Sea Region. Since the platform was founded (June 2021), we have observed too little involvement of this region in international offshore wind conferences, events, and panel discussions. They are dominated by participants mostly from Western Europe. And on the one hand, we are not surprised – Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark or the Netherlands are currently leading the development of offshore wind energy. Already during the Electricity 2021 conference in Copenhagen we noticed an insufficient representation of actors from the Baltic Sea region. The largest number of players was of course from Germany and Denmark. There was a significant lack of industry activity from Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
Looking at the Bilbao 2022 conference program, we can definitely notice the presence of German (e.g. Enercon, RWE, Nordex) and Danish (e.g. Vestas, Ørsted, LM Wind Power,) entities. In the case of Lithuania, Daiva Garbaliauskaite, Vice-Minister of Energy of Lithuania, will speak at one of the discussions.
Of course, this does not only apply to conferences organized by WindEurope. In our opinion, the problem concerns many industry events in Europe. It is time to change it, but how? About this, we asked WindEurope, as well as representatives of industry organizations.
Christoph Zipf, WindEurope’s communications manager, indicated in the commentary for BalticWind.EU that the organization is definitely seeing a growing interest from countries to participate in the Bilbao conference. The industry association expects more than 8,000 participants and 330 exhibiting companies. How many of these are from countries in the Baltic Sea region? According to the conference data of the Bilbao event, there will be 29 companies exhibiting from Germany, 32 from Denmark, 1 from Sweden, 3 from Finland, 1 from Estonia, 1 from Latvia, 0 from Lithuania and 4 from Poland. This means a small representation of this region, not counting Denmark and Germany. It is important to keep in mind that this does not count companies or other entities that will be attending the conference, but without participating in the panel discussions and exhibition fair.
Christoph explains that for the Bilbao conference, organizers select panelists based on their expertise and the relevance of their contributions to each conference session. The Bilbao 2022 conference program will focus on energy security, the European energy supply chain, offshore wind, new technologies, digitalization, end-of-life issues. Side panel discussions focus on recycling, skills and education, start-ups, innovation, and global export markets.
“We feel that the key stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region are already very interested in wind energy developments. Ministers from various Baltic Sea countries have taken part in previous editions of the WindEurope Annual Event. This includes Ministers from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany. We are very excited to have Patrick Graichen, State Secretary from Germany, again with us this year. Naturally, the fact that the WindEurope 2022 event takes place in Bilbao, Spain, leads to stronger participation of Southern European stakeholders in this edition”, commented Christoph Zipf for BalticWind.EU.
The full list of WindEurope 2022 speakers can be found HERE.
The Lithuanian Wind Power Association (LVEA) has confirmed its presence in Bilbao. Urtė Daškevičiūtė, Executive Director, informed BalticWind.EU that the conference in Bilbao will be attended by LVEA staff as well as a large delegation with our Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Energy, Daiva Garbaliauskaite. The government representative will participate as one of the speakers.
In response to a question on how the Baltic Sea region can become more involved in the international discussion on the future of wind energy in Europe, Urtė explained that the Baltic region can be considered, first of all, as a newcomer in the field of renewables.
“Sometimes we are too small to sit at the big table, but we are catching up fast and some topics that we did not care about in the past are starting to appear in our discussions. In fact, the development of offshore wind is already attracting a lot of international attention, and our region is seen by some major players as a region with a lot of potential. At the moment, I think that we are the curious ones in the more developed renewable energy markets, but I believe that we will soon be at the big boys’ table. However, the advantage of being less advanced than some other countries we compare ourselves to, is that we can always learn from the mistakes of others and apply best practice“, Urtė Daškevičiūtė commented for BalticWind.EU.
Magda Jentgen from Latvian Wind Energy Association (LWEA) said that unfortunately, the organization is not participating in Bilbao this year.
“We believe that the Baltic region will be present in future discussions about wind energy. The Baltic region, is still largely untapped in terms of wind, especially when we look at the offshore market. The Baltic sea basin has huge potential, and favorable conditions for offshore wind parks. The current Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed these discussions to the table sooner than we anticipated, and we believe that we will be at the international discussions about wind energy in the very near future”, Magda Jentgen explained.
Sweden is one of the most attractive wind markets in the eyes of investors, whose interest in investing in the country is growing year by year. The Swedish Wind Energy Association (SWEA) has announced that it will not be attending the conference this time. Lina Kinning, an offshore wind expert, pointed out, in response to a question about ways to get actors more involved in international discussions, that in order to exploit the potential of both onshore and offshore wind energy in the Baltic Sea region, closer cooperation between the Baltic countries is necessary.
“To cooperate more amongst the Baltic countries is crucial to tap the potential of wind energy both on- and offshore in the Baltic Sea region. The development of interconnectors and energy islands in offshore wind should be investigated together, on several levels. Many of the developers have activities in more than one of the Baltic Sea countries. I think, that cooperation between governments and associations could also be improved in order to achieve this. In particular, the Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Joint Declaration should be followed up closely“, added Lina Kinning.
Anni Mikkonen, CEO of the Finnish Wind Power Association (FWPA), has informed BalticWind.EU that she will be attending the Bilbao conference in person.
“We think that it is extremely important to be able to meet our international colleagues face-to-face and these events give us an opportunity to do so quite easily”, Anni Mikkonen said.
How to activate Finland in offshore wind talks? She replied that the national association of the Baltic Sea region should increase the co-operation and start the regular meetings again.
The Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) in response to questions from BalticWind.EU informed that as an industry organisation it will be present at the Bilbao conference. This is one of the most important conferences dedicated to wind energy, which the Association cannot miss – PWEA emphasised. The organization will be represented by Piotr Czopek, Regulatory Affairs Director, Weronica Kupczyk, Communications Specialist and Katarzyna Matuszczak, Development and Environment Manager.
On the first day of the conference, PWEA will participate in the Ukrainian session, where it will present a vision of development of a special platform enabling Ukrainians to find jobs in Poland. On the second day of the Bilbao 2022 Conference PWEA will organise a special event dedicated to the offshore market from the Polish perspective.
“The Association together with its partners is preparing a special report to assess the existing and future potential of installation vessels and other types of vessels required for offshore wind energy projects. The panel will present first insights from the document being prepared” Małgorzata Żmijewska-Kukiełka, PWEA Communications Manager, informs BalticWind.EU.
It is also reported that representatives of Polish companies (e.g. Co-Made) are going to Bilbao, it is difficult at this stage to determine how many, but we will inform as part of the event summary.
German offshore wind players are very active at international events and take an active part in discussions about the future of the wind sector, including in Bilbao. In response to our questions, one German organization, the Foundation for Offshore Wind Energy (Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE), pointed out several elements that could help the Baltic Sea become more involved on the international stage. Karina Würtz, Managing Director of the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation, explained that the main three factors are political and governmental support, a shared vision as well as media attention and marketing efforts.
“Some of the Baltic Sea countries – like Poland – are already ramping up their markets or – like Sweden and Lithuania – show high interest in developing offshore wind energy within their sphere of influence. All eight Baltic Sea states and the European Commission have signed the “Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Declaration” to deepen cooperation in the field. This declaration must now be followed by visible action, and a broad involvement and support of relevant stakeholders like national and international associations”, Karina Würtz explained.
She added that the increasing activities should also be guided towards a discussion on a joint vision of the neighbouring countries for an integrated offshore wind and energy system centered around the Baltic Sea. The high focus on the North Sea region is not just fuelled by the national expansion targets but also by systemic topics such as a joint European offshore grid or offshore hydrogen production. The full commentary of Karina Würtz will soon be published on BalticWind.EU.
Denmark definitely stands out from the rest of European countries with its commitment, investment in offshore wind development and support of Danish companies in the offshore wind sector. This is the country where the first offshore wind farm was established (1991) and where Danish giants such as Vestas (turbine manufacturer) and Orsted (energy company investing in offshore wind) come from. Denmark is present at practically every international event concerning wind energy. This is also the case in Bilbao, where representatives of Danish entities are speakers in many discussion panels.
BalticWind.EU at the Bilbao conference. Visit us at booth 3-B65
We will provide a final summary of the Baltic Sea theme and representatives’ presence in the final conclusion of Bilbao. Please visit BalticWind.EU today and follow our profiles on Twitter and Linkedin. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our team. In particular, we invite attendees of the Bilbao event to chat live and visit our booth 3-B65!