Paweł Wróbel, BalticWind.EU: The first projects in the Polish Baltic Sea, BC-Wind is one of them, attract particular attention. Their development shows what works well, and where there are barriers from the legislation side, supply chain preparation, infrastructure, etc. So – at what stage is BC-Wind?

Kacper Kostrzewa, BC-WIND Project Director: BC-Wind is the first offshore Ocean Winds project being developed in Poland. What makes us happy is that it is being implemented according to the planned schedule. Last year we received the CfD (the right to a Contract for Difference), and this year we focused on developing the supply chain based on local companies, receiving the environmental decision and working around acquiring a service port. We succeeded in meeting all of these objectives and plan to start the operation of BC-Wind in 2027.

The ending year was important for one more reason. Our Sponsors ENGIE and EDPR have submitted 9 applications in the II phase of the Polish offshore development program and will await the outcome, which, from the words of Mr. Deputy Minister Gróbarczyk, we expect at the turn of the year and in the second quarter of 2023.

The designation of service ports is one of the main milestones of offshore projects. What role for OW is the port of Władysławowo expected to play?

The port of Władysławowo will be an integral part of the service base for the BC-Wind project, servicing some 31 wind turbines located within 36 kilometers of the port. In April of this year, we entered into a preliminary agreement with the port operator Szkuner to lease 3,000 m2 of land and a wharf about 60m long. It is worth noting that the choice of Władysławowo for the location of the service base was made with the full support and cooperation of the Starostwo Puckie  (Puck District Starosty), port authorities and local government officials. Our analysis shows that the port in Władysławowo is perfectly prepared infrastructurally to service offshore wind farms, and is also supported by its location in a well-connected part of the Pomorskie Voivodeship.

We are currently developing detailed plans for the construction of a port where we will create a BC-Wind service center. The port’s facilities in the form of the Szkuner shipyard are a great advantage not only in the servicing of vessels, research and measurement equipment and other structures used during the construction and operation of the OWF, but also in the form of the people employed there, who may eventually find permanent, and importantly – year-round employment in the service port. 

Ocean Winds’ involvement in the development of the port from the very beginning has been planned in such a way as to benefit the local community centered around the port, the residents of Władysławowo and the Puck region, while at the same time fulfilling its service tasks. The development of the port creates opportunities for the fishermen, first of all at the operational stage, but also at the construction stage of the wind farm. Once the boats have been properly adapted, fishermen can take care of transporting crews to the offshore wind farm or lease boats for this purpose. After undergoing proper training, starting with the GWO, fishermen will be able to be CTV crew themselves or service the turbines.

Given the intense growth of the offshore industry in the region, we estimate that it will indirectly employ some 250-300 people.

Our involvement in the local community, also means developing competencies and skills in a number of specialties such as management, quality control, planning or electronics and automation. Already, Ocean Winds is implementing educational programs aimed at children and young people in primary and secondary technical schools. The flagship program called “Kariera z Wiatrem” (“Careers with Wind”) familiarizes students with the potential of offshore wind, develops their knowledge of offshore wind farms and presents career opportunities in this sector of the economy. Together with the Starostwo Puckie  (Puck District Starosty), the program will be rolled out in Puck County schools.

What does it mean to obtain an environmental decision? What are the next steps in this case?

Obtaining the environmental decision of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Gdansk (Regionalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Środowiska w Gdańsku), has brought Ocean Winds significantly closer to the implementation of the first wind farm in the Baltic Sea.

Since 2019, we have conducted a series of comprehensive surveys of the 298-square-kilometer area, involving more than 160 experts, 15 vessels, a remotely operated underwater vehicle and a specialized aircraft. After issuing a positive decision, we are now concentrating on the next stages of the investment, most importantly on the development of the supply chain and work on the project schedule.

How do you assess the preparedness of Polish companies to participate in local content? Can you see that companies are better prepared than they were a year or two ago? Are they “doing their homework”?

The Polish market is one of those that OW prioritizes and declares a long-term presence and cooperation with domestic suppliers. And OW’s global position provides a unique opportunity for Polish companies to undertake cooperation not only within the domestic supply chain, but also gives them access to offshore projects being developed around the world.

From the perspective of a couple of years, we see Polish companies getting better and better prepared to cooperate with our sector. We have contacts with dozens of companies and see how they are systematically developing and are open to acquiring new competencies and contracts.