Simon Redfern is a senior executive with over 35 years’ experience on a range of large, high-value infrastructure projects in the offshore wind, telecoms and offshore oil & gas sectors. For the last 20 years he has focused on the offshore wind from building the earliest UK Round 1 projects to consulting on a wide variety of projects in Europe, the US and the Far East. Mr. Redfern currently holds position of the Bid Director in the SSE Renewables, where he is responsible for leading the bid process for Polish Offshore License Locations. We talk with Simon Redfern about SSE Renewables’ involvement in the Baltic Sea region in a special interview for BalticWind.EU.

Patrycja Rapacka: In July 2021, SSE Renewables and Acciona signed a Memorandum Of Understanding regarding the development of offshore winds. Why have you decided to cooperate with Acciona in this field? What progress has the two companies made since July?

Simon Redfern: The cooperation with ACCIONA Energía is based on our common vision and complementary strengths. We believe that our combined knowledge, experiences and resources make a perfect match for the development of offshore wind projects. Therefore, we decided to work together in exploring new opportunities in Poland.

SSE Renewables is one of the leading offshore wind developers in the world and is currently building more offshore wind capacity than any other company. We have a strong track record of developing, constructing and operating offshore wind projects. ACCIONA Energía is very active in Poland’s renewable energy market, where it already owns and locally operates more than 100MW of onshore wind generation assets alongside a development pipeline of new projects. ACCIONA Energía has a great understanding of the local Polish economy, also thanks to its sister company – Mostostal Warszawa. Therefore, ACCIONA Energía provides knowledge of the local market to our partnership.

On the 8th of April this year, SSE Renewables submitted an application for an Offshore Location License (OLL) for the allocation of development rights for an offshore wind farm at site 60.E.4 in the Baltic Sea in Poland. SSE Renewables and ACCIONA Energía will collaborate in the development of the project if the license is granted and we feel we are best placed to successfully do that given our combined track record.

What are exactly the SSE Renewables plans for the offshore wind market in Poland? Will the company submit any OLL applications? How many?

Poland is quickly becoming one of the leading offshore wind markets in Europe and especially in the Baltic Sea.

We plan to bring our extensive experience in developing, installing and operating offshore wind farms especially in the United Kingdom to help support the Polish energy transition. We have constructed projects in some of the most challenging environments on time and on budget and look forward to doing the same in the Baltic Sea. In the UK we have also demonstrated our commitment to develop local supply chain capacity and look forward to doing the same in Poland.

We have submitted our first ever application for a location permit for the construction of an offshore wind farm near the Polish coast and very excited about the prospect of developing the site.

What prompted the SSE Renewables to join the race on the Polish offshore wind market? What distinguishes the Baltic Sea? Is your company also planning to expand its operations in other countries of the Baltic Sea region?

Expanding to selected international markets is a core part of SSE Renewables’ strategy. The Polish Exclusive Economic Zone of the Baltic Sea has great potential for the development of offshore wind farms. A good wind regime and relatively shallow waters make it a great place to install turbines, which will be able to produce green energy for millions of Polish households in the next decades.

The Polish government plans to achieve up to 11 GW installed capacity by 2040. It will be an important step for the Polish and wider European energy sector transition. The potential of the Polish part of the Baltic Sea is even greater – according to the WindEurope, in the future, Poland can achieve up to 28 GW installed capacity in offshore wind.

There aren’t currently plans to expand in the wider Baltic Sea region but we certainly see potential for offshore wind development in other Baltic countries.

Will there be an emphasis on the local content in Polish SSE Renewables projects? How?

SSE Renewables has a track record of delivering offshore wind projects with the involvement of local partners, supporting the local economy and local communities – this is evidenced by previous projects we have developed in the UK. For example, we have worked very hard with the supply chain to locate the first offshore wind turbine tower factory in Scotland.

SSE Renewables and Acciona Energia will incorporate this focus on developing local supply chains and investments to its plans for Poland.

The offshore wind industry is facing various challenges such as permitting, network development or rising raw material prices. What is the biggest challenge for SSE Renewables in the development of wind projects?

There are always a range of challenges to developing offshore wind projects but it is something SSE Renewables has significant experience in managing, with projects to date delivered on time, on budget with great safety and environmental record.

The broader challenge for the offshore wind sector is to accelerate the pace of delivery of projects to support a rapid energy transition. That requires collaboration between developers, supply chain, government and wider stakeholders to reduce the time it takes for permitting, auctions, and construction.

Where do you see SSE in 10 or 20 years from now? What are your global plans?

SSE’s strategy is to create value for shareholders and society from developing, building, operating and investing in the electricity infrastructure and businesses needed in the transition to net zero. We have an ambitious £12.5bn capital investment plan to accelerate progress towards net zero over the five years up to 2026, the majority of which will go to low-carbon infrastructure. SSE Renewables plans to double its installed renewable energy capacity to 8GW by 2026 and has ambitious targets to more than treble capacity to over 13GW by 2031 and increasing output fivefold to over 50TWh annually – enough to be able to power around 20 million homes each year.

Sustainability is one of SSE’s core values, defined as ‘we do things responsibly to add long-term value’. We’re committed to being operationally net zero by 2050 and have set four 2030 business goals aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SSE Renewables business is expanding to selected international markets where there is potential for growth and we believe we can bring additional value to the deployment of renewable energy in that country. Poland is very much high up the list of countries where we see that opportunity.

Thank you