As much as 140 TWh of cheap and stable energy can be generated from the 28 GW of capacity in offshore wind farms located in the Polish waters of the Baltic Sea. By 2050 such an amount of energy coming from the Baltic Sea could meet close to 60% of the forecasted national electricity demand – the Polish Wind Energy Association indicates in its report “Vision for the Baltic Sea. Vision for Poland. Development of offshore wind in the Baltic Sea region”.
The PWEA report was based on selected data from the flagship WindEurope report “Our energy, our future”, while expanding its part devoted to the potential of offshore wind in the Polish exclusive economic zone.
– If we fully utilise the energy potential of the relatively shallow and very windy Baltic Sea, we can become the region’s leader in installed capacity in offshore wind power. Thus, wind farms in the Polish exclusive economic zone of the Baltic Sea will become one of the pillars of the energy transition of the country and our contribution to the implementation of the goals of the European Green Deal – highlights Janusz Gajowiecki, President of PWEA.
According to PWEA’s estimates, the amount of energy generated by 28 GW of offshore wind capacity would be sufficient to provide heating and hot water for approx. 17 million households. Thus, offshore wind farms located in the Polish exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea would become one of the pillars of the country’s energy transition and contribute to the fulfilment of the European Green Deal objectives.
Rasmus Errboe, Senior Vice President and Head of Continental Europe at Ørsted Offshore, points out that the European Commission has estimated the need for 450GW of offshore wind by 2050 to decarbonise European economy. “The Baltic Region will play an important role in fulfilling that target, and Poland is well placed to become a regional leader”, he said.
In-depth analysis of the costs of generation of electricity from wind in the Baltic Sea indicates an enormous yet untapped economic potential of that water basin. So far, only 2.2 GW have been developed in the Baltic Sea (Denmark – 879 MW, Finland – 70 MW, Germany – 1074 MW and Sweden – 192 MW; as of October 2020 – PWEA). Meanwhile, according to WindEurope’s analysis, the offshore wind potential of the Baltic Sea is 83 GW, and according to the European Commission’s estimates – as much as 93.5 GW.
WindEurope indicates that most of the electricity from future Baltic Sea wind farms could be generated at a low or very low cost.
“Poland is a very attractive emerging market for offshore wind in the Baltic Sea, and one with the best untapped potential in Europe. With our offshore development projects located around the Słupsk sandbank we are leveraging our capabilities and know-how as the second biggest player in offshore wind globally, to help drive offshore wind energy in Poland forward. However, to bring projects to life a stable government framework is required”, explains Holger Matthiesen, Head of Offshore Development Scandinavia & Baltics of RWE Renewables.
The key to develop 28 GW in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea is to create a stable regulatory framework with a support scheme for investors. That is why investors have welcomed the publication of the new draft of the Offshore Wind Act, and look forward to the regulations being adopted soon.
This will be a green light for the twelve projects currently under development in Polish part of the Baltic Sea. Grid connection conditions have been issued for seven projects with a total capacity of 7,95 GW, and connection agreements have been concluded with the owners of two projects with a total capacity of 2,2 GW. A more dynamic development of offshore wind farms in the Polish Baltic Sea waters could be facilitated by the removal of administrative barriers, including more frequent revisions of the spatial development plans (every 5 instead of every 10 years), a more flexible approach to the width of migration corridors (instead of the current fixed 4 km width), and allowing for generation of power also in areas designated for other uses, e.g. military or extraction of hydrocarbons.
Major challenges for the tapping of the Baltic Sea’s full potential include strengthening the interconnection capacity in cooperation with other countries of the region, environmental impact assessment studies and creating a stable supply chain.
Setting ambitious targets in particularly important for suppliers and sub-suppliers of offshore wind farm components, who need a precise time schedule of projects to make necessary investments in the production plants.
“Offshore wind is not only an energy project. It is also about investments that will be a pillar of the Polish economy in the future. PGE is already working to put the capabilities and expertise of Polish entrepreneurs to best use in order to build PGE’s wind farms in the Baltic Sea. PGE’s climate neutrality target for 2050 is based on efficient renewable energy, and offshore wind in the Baltic Sea has an enormous potential that we are clearly focusing on”, says Wojciech Dąbrowski, CEO of Polish Energy Group (PGE).
According to Grzegorz Górski, COO of Ocean Winds, a company established by a merger of EDPR and Engie, the engagement of experienced, international players is crucial to fully realize the vision of offshore wind development in Polish Baltic and capture the potential of local content.
“Offshore wind projects are extremely capital intensive investments hence in most of the cases it its necessary to build consortia realizing such project”
Mr Górski explained the reasons behind the merger, while indicating the strategic advantage of OW’s combined offshore wind assets and project pipeline, beginning with 1.5 GW under construction and 4.0 GW under development, with the target of reaching 5-7 GW of projects in operation or construction and 5-10 GW under advanced development by 2025 in the most prospective markets in Europe (including Poland), the United States and selected Asian countries.
Tapping the full potential of the Baltic Sea at a low cost will not be possible without initiating a regional cooperation at an early stage of development of offshore wind projects. Hence the importance of the Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Declaration, signed on 30 September 2020 and initiating a period of close cooperation on the development of offshore wind projects in the region.
“The Baltic Sea Offshore Wind Joint Declaration of Intent is a great opportunity for Poland to take the next steps jointly with the other countries in the region to investigate and implement new innovative solutions, which will be crucial for the future offshore wind development in the region”, adds Rasmus Errboe from Ørsted Offshore.
It applies to coordination in maritime spatial planning, grid development, planning of capacity and support mechanisms. All of these components will be of key importance for the development of a well-functioning internal energy market and cross-border infrastructure. They will also allow for effective development of hybrid projects, i.e. offshore wind farms powering two or three countries or being an integral part of an interconnector. Such projects would help maximize the benefits from the development of offshore wind power and reduce the levelized cost of electricity. For example, low-LCOE areas in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea could be used to build wind farms powering western Sweden. In turn, there are similar areas around Bornholm that could be used to provide electricity for Poland.
As indicated under the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP) initiative, thanks to political cooperation and with ambitious goals for development of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea we could save up to EUR 350 million per year until 2030 and EUR 970 million annually until 2050.