The European Commission has recently announced its plans to expand Europe’s offshore wind capacity to 300 GW by 2050. Over the next decade, the commission has set a target of 60 GW of wind technology to be deployed off the coast of the region. This effort will require a collective effort from all member countries including Poland who have taken huge strides forward in this direction.  In October 2020, the country drafted a legal framework for offshore wind development in the Baltic Sea with a vision to install 28 GW of offshore wind capacity. In a virtual conference on Baltic Offshore Wind Transmission conducted by Global Transmission Research, the Undersecretary of State and the head of Poland’s Environmental Department, Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyński expressed his views on how the country aims to develop its offshore wind capacities. Highlights from his speech….

Can you shed some light on Poland’s renewable energy policy and outlook?

Under our energy policy, we aim to build a new zero-emission energy system and for that purpose, the development of offshore wind is critical. We aim at ensuring the development of offshore wind, improving air quality for our citizens, and working towards a just transition in Poland by creating new jobs and opportunities in this growing sector. In the draft energy policy, we have assumed that in the first stage until 2030, we would reach about 6 GW of installed capacity and reach up to 8-11 GW by 2040. We aim at developing renewable energy in our mix quite significantly. By 2030, about one-third of the energy produced in our mix will come from renewable energy sources.

By 2040, we want half of our energy production to be coming from zero-emission energy. When we look at the potential in Poland beyond what we have indicated in our draft energy policy, we find that there could be 28 GW of offshore wind in the Baltics by 2050. If we look at the initiatives so far in the country, there are 10 different wind farm projects of which seven already have grid connectivity. This would amount to 11 GW of renewable capacity. We are currently working on the Offshore Wind Act and we aim to have the act adopted as soon as possible and brought in to force by 2021. The act looks at many different issues that are important for the development of offshore wind but above all, it introduces a support scheme for offshore wind projects. It also looks at issues of grid connection standards for power stations and issues related to the development of a local supply chain for offshore wind. For this, we are working in a non-legislative manner with a letter of intent that has been signed on the first of July this year, with the sector to work on developing the so-called sectoral agreement in Poland. We have several working groups that are looking at specific issues concerning the development of wind energy in Poland and how that can also benefit the society.

We are close to Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Lithuania. It is an area where we see a huge potential for intergovernmental cooperation and this is why we have initiated and signed together with all the member states, a joint declaration of intent for the development of offshore wind. The cooperation aims to accelerate the development of wind power in the Baltic Sea and coordinating and optimising activities that would lead to the full use of energy and economic potential of the sea.

Could you elaborate more on regional cooperation in light of the signing of the declaration of intent?

We did propose to strengthen our cooperation in the Baltic Sea as we saw the clear potential for regional coordination to ease the development of offshore wind. These are projects that have an impact on all of our economies, and we can have significant synergies if we can coordinate better. So, it can range from labour law to the planning of grids. Even when we do an environmental impact assessment, coordination is needed. This discussion between our administration is critical at various stages of the project and we are convinced that having forums to discuss further on how we can together make it easier for our investors to support new offshore wind projects will be key to the development of this industry in the future.

Are there any specific initiatives or support schemes for the rapid development wind of the offshore wind industry in Poland?

For us, offshore wind is a critical element of our mix in the future and will account for about one-fourth of the installed renewable capacity by 2040. To help the development of offshore wind, we are currently working on a draft legislation. We are going through, in recent weeks, the final steps of our internal process in the government but we hope for it to be out soon and send the act to parliament for it to come in to force early next year. This would enable us to have 6 GW of installed capacity by 2040.

We also want to push for a solution that will build a support scheme for the development of offshore wind farms. Electricity producers that will be in the support scheme will be entitled to receive the negative balance, which is the difference between the market price of energy and the price that would enable them to cover the costs of producing electricity at sea. In the first quarter of 2021, we want to grant permissions to projects with a total capacity of almost 6 GW that would be built between 2025 and 2030. We also wish to organise further auctions between 2025 and 2027 for further development of the sector. The law assumes that the developers will be required to obtain grid connection agreements from the transmission system operator (TSO) to ensure efficient grid connectivity. The act is also setting some details about the technical requirements for power output, stations located at sea. It also sets rights for the TSO for the safe operation of the national grid. Further, we wish to reinforce the cooperation between companies in the offshore wind industry and to develop a local supply chain for offshore wind that will be ranging from components, services, port facilities, grid connections and to make sure that these strategies reinforce the vision of the European industry. 

Are there any regulations or initiatives to enforce a local content requirement in Poland?

In Poland, we are looking to achieve this through non-legislative measures with corporations within the sector. We are working on a sectoral agreement that represents different working groups for different topics connected with the development of offshore wind. The only legal requirement is more of an informational exercise. The development of the local supply chain is more of an exercise of coordination of different public policies and also making sure that appropriate infrastructure is available. It is also the effort of the administration and policymakers to ensure that all the efforts in the different sectors converge, enabling the development of offshore wind.

We have been talking about the public-private participation in the advancement of the offshore wind segment. As a policymaker, what are your expectations from the industry?

In terms of our expectations from the industry, its engagement has many aspects. It is, on one end, an industry of suppliers and we have many different companies today that are engaged in the sectors and are building vessels to supply offshore wind farms. We have companies that are building cables and other stations. We also have many other companies that are already present in that sector and we expect that they will further develop the products that we need to build these wind farms. We also have an industry that will be producing electricity, and further away in Europe as well. These investors are investing together in the development of the sector.

What is the key message that you would like to send out as you look to develop offshore wind in Poland?

We must regularly discuss amongst the industry and administration to look for solutions and understand how we can expand our energy system in this direction. From the Polish perspective, offshore wind will play a crucial role in the transformation of the energy mix and we count on the interest of all investors present in Europe in the sector to help us achieve these ambitious targets until 2030 and beyond to build a new zero-emission energy system in Poland.