The third version of the draft spatial development plan for maritime areas will be published in October 2019. The date is nothing new — unlike the fact that the next version will not include additional offshore wind energy sites.
“The third version of the plan differs from the previous one in higher number of military firing ranges, some of them only for temporary use,” explained Katarzyna Krzywda, Director of the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation’s Maritime Economy Department during the panel opening the Pomeranian Offshore Wind Conference in Szczecin.
The event organised by the Polish Wind Energy Association and Business Club Szczecin was held in the Martime Office building in Szczecin. Thus, the Ministry responsible for the development of the Baltic Sea development plan accepted the demands of the Minister for National Defense, received by the Ministry of Maritime Economy on the eve of the conference.
This does not entail complete freezing of the spatial development plan of the Polish Baltic Sea zone in the context of offshore wind development at the current level. The Plan could be revised every 10 years. Before the 3.0 version of the spatial development plan will be processed as a legislative draft, international and national consultations must be held. They have been scheduled for the beginning of June. Interestingly, the final version will be proposed as a Council of Ministers Resolution approved by particular Ministries, in particular Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Maritime Economy and Ministry of National Defense, rather than — as previously expected — as Ministry of Maritime Economy’s draft. In accordance with experts, this will extend the entire procedure.
Katarzyna Krzywda estimates that the spatial development plan could be adopted as binding within a year, although efforts will be made to make this happen as soon as possible.
What version 3.0 will include? To what extent will it comply with the declarations on the exploitation of the energy potential of the Baltic Sea? Representative of the “Ministry of the Sea” stressed that, basing on the second version, approximately 3.3 thousand square kilometres were allocated for offshore wind development, increasing the area by approximately 360 sq. km compared to the baseline scenario. “In accordance with our calculations, this secures the development of 14 GW in the Polish Exclusive Economic Zone, resulting in a substantial surplus above the 10 GW included in the energy policy,” Krzywda added. Furthermore, this brings a substantial margin for subsequent investors applying for location decisions. Currently, investors holding such decisions occupy approximately 1.2 thousand square kilometres.
The subsequent version secures areas for infrastructure corridors (as suggested cable/pipeline laying area) as well as bid migration corridors. It was also decided not to close maritime areas for fishing, leaving only a buffer zone within a radius of 500 metres from artificial islands. In practice this means that small fishing vessels (up to 45 metres long) could navigate between turbines, which — as declared by developers — should be set more than 1 km apart. A larger buffer — approximately 2 km — will be established along so-called navigation routes.
The final decision on the closing or leaving an area open for fishing will be made by the Director of a Maritime Office. Ministry of the Sea also allows for joint use of areas allocated for the production of electricity and hydrocarbon exploration and production.
Although the plans for exploitation of the energy potential of the Baltic Sea have been discussed for more than 10 years, only today we have reached a high level of detail. The change in approach was primarily caused by the decrease in technology costs. “A few years ago at PGE we discussed whether offshore wind is the right way to go. However, cost pressure changed since. Conventional sources are becoming increasingly expensive, whereas renewables cost less. The intersection point is very close. Furthermore, one cannot forget social pressure that cannot be left unseen,” itemised Monika Morawiecka, PGE Baltica CEO.
Green energy is also demanded by industrial customers. Monika Morawiecka said that one of large PGE customers wanted to purchase 100 percent of RES electricity. The arguments included only the business ones. The company, being a large exporter of goods from Poland, would have to move its plants outside the country, had it failed to prove that its so-called carbon footprint is insignificant. “Offshore wind farms are the future. PGE wants to be part of it. Offshore may become the largest investment programme for the Group in 2020s. This is because we are completing the investments in the Opole and Turów coal units,” Morawiecka said.
By the end of 2019 PGE wants to select an experienced strategic partner to implement projects at lower cost and faster than it could alone.
A similar approach was adopted by PKN Orlen. “We will soon launch the process to seek a partner possessing the required know-how,” declared Krzysztof Kidawa, President of Baltic Power (PKN Orlen Group). “We want to optimise certain risks,” he added.
Representatives of both companies agreed that rapid growth of installed offshore capacity in the UK or Denmark was made possible by a stable regulatory framework. “Investors could have reduced their expectations, for regulatory risk decreased substantially. Technological progress and economies of scale benefits came next,” Morawiecka said. This enabled the United Kingdom, the leader in offshore wind, to drive the cost of electricity produced in offshore wind farms from the original level approximating 149 GBP/MWh to the current 53-56 GBP.
Everything is about predictability of revenues from a long-term investment. No entity will accept price volatility over the 25-year lifetime of an offshore wind farm.
During the European Economic Congress Deputy Minister for Energy, Grzegorz Tobiszowski announced that he will recommend the adoption of a special legislation enabling the development of offshore wind in the Baltic Sea already in this term of the Parliament.
Ministry of Energy sees the offshore wind sector as the driver of the Polish economy. In accordance with some experts, the Industrial Development Agency, specialising in business restructuring, is the “silent hero” of the emerging industry. However, Andrzej Kensbok, Vice-Prsident of the IDA, stressed that the Agency does not pretend to be an investor in the electricity production sector in the Baltic Sea. He rather sees his role as the hub for the supply of offshore wind turbines and maintenance services.
“We want to support local suppliers. Therefore, we would like the legislation — even if only through soft means — to reflect the participation of Polish companies in the development of the supply value chain,” Kensbok stated.
“Without large RES we will not ensure the competitiveness of the economy. Large business interested in the purchase of green electricity is ready to conclude 10-year contracts with offshore farms in the future. Energy-intensive industries may hedge electricity prices,” explained Janusz Gajowiecki, President of the Polish Wind Energy Association.
In his opinion 2019 is the breakthrough year for the development of offshore wind in Poland. “There may be substantial changes to the Baltic Sea development plan at the very end, i.e. following international consultations with Sweden, Lithuania, Germany or Denmark,” Gajowiecki added. During the first day of the Pomeranian Offshore Wind Conference in Szczecin PWEA presented its new „Offshore wind in Poland” report.