We are just a few days away from the fourth edition of the PIMEW Offshore Wind Energy Cup 2024 regatta. This is a great opportunity to talk with Jakub Budzyński, President of the Polish Offshore Wind Industry Chamber, about the importance of the event for the offshore wind industry, but also more broadly about the dynamic development of the industry ahead of us in the coming years.

I invite you to read the conversation to learn more about the organization of the regatta, its impact on the development of the sector and the passion that drives the whole initiative.

Krzysztof Bulski: Hello, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the opportunity to conduct this interview on the occasion of the 4th. edition of the PIMEW Offshore Wind Energy Cup 2024 regatta. To begin, tell us about the importance of this regatta to the offshore wind industry community. What are the organizers’ goals in this regard?

Jakub Budzyński: Hello, I might surprise you, but the purpose of this event is simply to have fun among the industry, but fun based on team competition in sports, which builds good and healthy ties between people. In addition, in a discipline that is associated with our sector like no other thanks to the elements it uses – wind and water. We ourselves are passionate about water-related sports activities, and here it is less important whether it’s salt or fresh water. Therefore, we also decided to promote our personal passions while engaging in industry activities.

Is the regatta merely an opportunity to compete, or is it important as a platform for sharing experiences and integrating the industry?

The entire event is de facto a day and a half spent in a relaxed atmosphere. This is because on the evening of the first day we meet at a dinner combined with a charity art auction, while on the second day we lose the “calories” accumulated the previous evening. In the process, many new interactions take place, acquaintances are made, which is generally conducive to the exchange of insights and information on various topics, including industry ones. In this way, we combine the pleasant with the useful.

In your opinion, does the PIMEW Offshore Wind Energy Cup regatta contribute to creating a positive image of the industry?

I hope so. Our event is growing every year in terms of attendance and the level of professionalism of the organization. My personal ambition is for our regatta promoting the offshore wind sector to become part of the calendar of Sopot or Tri-City or even regional events with a sporting profile in the near future, but with a much higher level of openness to participants from outside the industry.

Pictured at the PTMEW Offshore Wind Energy Cup 2023 are, from left: Maciej Cylupa (Polish Sailing League), Jakub Budzyński (Polish Chamber of Offshore Wind Energy), Artur Ambrożewicz (Vulcan Training & Consultancy), Rafał Sawicki (Polish Sailing League)

Poland’s OWE sector expects dynamic growth in the coming years. How will increased employment in the sector affect local coastal communities?

We expect a kind of breath of fresh air in local economies, so far built around the traditionally understood functions of Polish port and coastal cities. In addition to the people who will find direct employment in servicing the farms and operating their service centers at the ports, the sector will inductively engage the entire ranks of local suppliers of everything necessary for the operation of industrial and critical infrastructure facilities, which also have social and accommodative functions. However, this will not happen on its own, as if by magic. Local entrepreneurs should try to unite or associate, e.g., to form a kind of local multi-industry cooperatives in the face of a new, large customer entering the region or city virtually permanently, in order to jointly offer a cost-optimal offer. Better than the big wholesale chains, etc. Such processes often succeeded in foreign markets during the period of the emergence of the so-called first offshore in Denmark or Germany. Regardless, the future operators of wind farms in Poland are showing apparent goodwill in establishing local economic relations, so I am positive about the positive developmental stimulus that offshore wind energy will bring to local communities. Parallel to this thread is the hiring of technical and design staff, but these will be developments of a correspondingly different, somewhat smaller scale of impact, appropriate to the number of projects or service centers operating on the Polish coast.

What specific benefits will it bring to local businesses and coastal residents?

It is possible to spin a broad story on this, because de facto specific forms of benefits will also depend on local needs and the “creativity” of local communities and their authorities in terms of expectations from investors who are open to meeting them already, but we will certainly see at least a few marko-scale phenomena of a universal nature. I am thinking, for example, of a general increase in turnover and revenue among local entrepreneurs, steady revenue to local budgets from various fees and taxes, by way of a slice, also improvements to road and broader urban infrastructure, or new sports and cultural facilities, as well as material support for public and uniformed services, such as volunteer fire departments, etc.

What are your expectations for the future of the offshore wind industry in Poland, especially in terms of job growth and development of the industry community?

We would like everyone interested in gaining new qualifications and a new job in this attractive sector to actually have a real chance to do so. Hence, we were the first, still under the banner of PTMEW, together with the Gdansk University of Technology, to launch the first formal education path in Poland for offshore elevators as a postgraduate course. That was 2019, but the concept had been conceived as many as four years earlier with no possibility of implementation due to lack of interest from anyone at the time.

Of course, in the same breath, I will also mention expectations for the development of the domestic offshore wind industry. I wish for myself and everyone involved in the development of this industry in Poland that it is our contractors who will soon, that is, in the next few years, more and more often win contracts for general contracting of marine works and products as well, and before that, that they will efficiently acquire the competence to do so. Of course, we do not stop as an organization at wishful thinking in this regard. We are working intensively and directionally on “rolling out” or launching processes leading us in evolutionary steps towards this goal. This is grassroots work that rarely matches the hurrah-optimistic media coverage, but implemented on a daily, ant-like basis, it is producing the desired and long-dreamed-of results to an increasingly noticeable degree.

Are there any other social or educational initiatives led by PIMEW to raise public awareness of offshore wind energy?

PIMEW relies primarily on formal education. In addition to the aforementioned course at the Gdansk University of Technology, we also patronize and partner with the University of Gdansk, the Maritime University of Gdynia with its numerous and innovative educational projects, the University of Wroclaw, the Maritime University of Technology in Szczecin, and most recently, the Naval Academy in Gdynia, actively participating in the work of the program council, preparing a new, attractive offer for students seeking employment in the marine RES industry. This offer will soon be announced to the public, and full-time studies will start in the coming academic year. The next step consistently should be cooperation at the level of technical and vocational education.

As for the rest of your question: we carried out a whole series of activities to promote the sector while we were still PTMEW, between 2010 and 2016, and incidentally also a little later. In the following years, as if by instinct, our activities increasingly began to resemble those characteristic of chambers of commerce, i.e. industry bodies, strictly representing the interests of members affiliated to their structures. This is also how we understand PIMEW’s basic and priority mission, which is reflected in its charter provisions. Promotional activities for taking initiatives in these areas are primarily left to organizations such as associations, various types of foundations, etc. However, this does not mean a lack of willingness to participate in such actions. On the contrary. We are very happy to get involved and support them conceptually and even materially and operationally, to the best of our ability, of course.

The upcoming edition of the regatta will be the fourth in a row. Can we expect any innovations or surprises at this year’s regatta?

They do. This is because we also prepared attractions for those who like water sports, but for some reason did not want to board the racing boats or simply ran out of space. It will be m. amongst others, The opportunity to swim on the recently fashionable SUPs. The opportunity is completely free of charge. Everything under the watchful eye of the professionals of the Polish Sailing League, just like the regatta itself, for which I once again thank my PLŻ colleagues. The entire regatta day ashore will take the form of a large, joyful picnic, so the opportunity to spend the day in the Sopot marina by the pier, with unlimited snacks and drinks is also a kind of attraction.

In closing, could we hear a few words of encouragement from the President for potential participants in the PIMEW Offshore Wind Energy Cup regatta?

Given that this year’s edition of the Regatta “sold out” on the stump, a little perversely I highly encourage you to book your places already for next year, and this year to show up at the pier in Sopot, see for yourself how great this event is, and actively spend Monday together in the unique circumstances that Sopot creates just before the high summer season. See you on May 20!

Thank you for the interview.

For more information about the PIMEW Offshore Wind Energy Cup, visit the organizer’s website.