2021 turned out to be a breakthrough for the Polish offshore wind energy industry. The first legal regulations for the sector appeared, the Energy Regulatory Office granted support for five projects in the Baltic Sea. The industry in Poland is no longer asking whether offshore wind energy will be developed, but how it will be implemented in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea. One of the debates was attended by our representative Paweł Wróbel, Managing Director of BalticWind.EU.

On September 13-14, 2021 at the Ignacy Łukasiewicz Rzeszów University of Technology in Poland, the 6th Scientific Conference “Energy security – pillars and development perspective” was held. BalticWind.EU was the media patron of the event and the debate on offshore wind energy. Karol Rabenda, undersecretary in the Ministry of State Assets, took part in it. He said that offshore wind energy is an important project for the Polish state on many levels. Apart from the prestigious and ambitious issue, the key aspect is also the transformation of the energy sector towards green energy, the arrangement of the energy mix and support for the country’s economic development.

“It is very important for the Pomeranian land that we are building wind farms – we are de facto developing the maritime economy. This investment must be successful, it has full support, it strengthens the feeling of national pride that Poles implement such investments”, commented the deputy minister.

Polish companies see opportunities for themselves, but also challenges.

Monika Morawiecka, President of the Management Board of PGE Baltica, pointed out that the best thing about the Polish act on promoting electricity generation in offshore farms is that it simply is.

“The most important thing is that we are no longer waiting for the bill. It is a very well written document. The act gives predictability. In the first phase, support is allocated to 5 projects, which must also be notified to the European Commission. The next step will be auctions in 2025 and 2026. Regulations on the basis of this act have already been issued and works are underway on others” – explained Morawiecka.

The representative of the Polish investor indicated the essence of the Polish Offshore Wind Sector Deal. PGE Baltica has high hopes for this document. It is important to convince the industry, investors and contractors that they all want to cooperate, so that the sector develops in Poland and that there is as much added value for Poland as possible. Janusz Gajowiecki, president of the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA), spoke in a similar vein, emphasizing the importance of the sectoral agreement in Poland.

“Large, complex and long-term investments are associated with challenges, not threats” – she emphasized. From the investor’s point of view, the key challenges are those that are beyond the investor’s control. The act puts administrative matters in order. Investments are difficult precisely from the administrative side, as for the first time all authorities will have to issue decisions for offshore wind energy. Another challenge is the expansion of the transmission network on the part of the operator Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne. – “We are not afraid of this, but it is a binary element. If this infrastructure is not built for what reasons, we will not take the energy ashore”, commented Morawiecka.

Grzegorz Strzelczyk, President of the Management Board of LOTOS Petrobaltic, emphasized that the company has been operating in the offshore industry for 30 years, with the oil & gas segment being the leading segment. The development of offshore winds is a great opportunity for the Polish shipowner and intends to take advantage of it. “We want to transform from an oil & gas company to a company supporting green energy”, he said. Lotos plans to build installation ships (eg CTV). The main threat is the schedule and time, as well as the condition of Polish shipyards.

Maciej Stryjecki, director of the offshore wind energy department in Polenergia, reminded that we have been developing marine projects with Equinor for 1.5 years.

“I do not see that the state or institutions have made it clear that our projects are treated differently than the projects of other companies. The offshore wind act gives a wide range of activities to all interested parties. Currently, there is a discussion around one regulation as to whether equality will be respected in subsequent bills. The state also has its right to create its policy in such sensitive sectors as energy. We are calmly observing what will happen, in the next rounds everyone will surely have equal chances”, he said.

Stryjecki pointed out that the key to success is a cooperation between investors and the administration. A compromise is a key, but also logistical bottlenecks that can be solved together.

“There is an ongoing discussion about ports. We really care that the share of local content is as large as possible, we expressed it in the supply chain plan. One of the necessary preparation of our ports is logistics. Even when we build the port in Gdynia that we dream of, there may not be enough space there to develop more projects. We must have the prospect of using different ports. We decided to service from Łeba, but this port needs to be modernized”, said Stryjecki.

Polenergia is in a very broad dialogue with the industry, it is already conducting tenders, but the company feels unsatisfied in supporting Polish companies.

An international perspective is needed

Paweł Wróbel, Managing Director of BalticWind.EU, shared the optimism of Polish participants in the offshore wind energy sector as an observer and a resident of Pomerania coming from a seafaring family. He also stressed that the Baltic Sea has opportunities for small and large companies in Poland. In his speech, however, he referred to an international perspective.

“The BalticWind.EU platform was created as a response to – I have the impression – the underrated regional level in discussions about the future of offshore wind energy sector. We noticed that it is often a fragmentary look at the Baltic area, where we see these investments on a piece of the map, considering only the area of territorial waters from Świnoujście to the Hel Peninsula. Collaboration and coordination is essential to avoid unhealthy competition. We help to observe the development of offshore wind energy sector on a regional scale”, said Wróbel.

The biggest challenge is to realize how international this business is and how much regulation is going in this direction. Offshore wind projects will contribute to the integration of energy markets of the EU countries. Initiating joint projects – this is the direction that will continue.

“We will come to an even greater stimulus by regulations and market participants. Hybrid projects to be connected to at least two energy systems will be key. The very characteristics of wind energy show a change in the philosophy of energy. It crosses the state border and this is the direction where offshore wind energy sector will go”, said Wróbel.

Paweł Wróbel also received a distinction for the best paper delivered during a debate from the conference audience. Congratulations.