Polish wind farms may plug the energy gap

(United Nations Photo, CC BY-NC-ND)

Wind energy returned to the Polish debate at the Warsaw Baltic Forum for Marine Industry and Energy, as it may plug the gap created by rising energy demand and gradual phasing out of coal.

Maciej Stryjecki, President of the Foundation for Renewable Energy made a call for renewables “Shortly, Poland will need new sources of power in its energy system. To get energy security Baltic energy production may help.”

The program “Baltic Energy for Poland 2025” was the basis for the Warsaw Baltic Forum for Marine Industry and Energy. Written by the Foundation itself, it sought to answer fundamental questions of gas diversification, as well as building a trans-border electrical maritime energy network whilst reviewing the development of maritime wind power. It sought to answer the question “What role should maritime energy play in the building of Poland’s energy security over the coming decade?”

Poland’s energy demand will continue to grow by 25 per cent from 26.2GW in 2016 to 30.1GW by 2030, a period that will see the decommissioning of coal-fired systems. European BAT (best available techniques) regulations stipulate the modernizing of the majority of coal-fired power stations to meet BAT regulations and standards. By 2035 up to 13.9GW may be taken out of the system this way. It will be necessary to build 6.5GW of new energy generating centers by 2030 and 15.8GW by 2035. The Foundation predicts that between 2020 and 2030 there will be a significant energy gap which will have to be filled by new sources.

He added that there will be stringent CO2 reduction requirements coming into play, so it makes sense that new technologies should also be produced in Poland, and give a fillip to Polish industry as soon as possible.

The energy mix will include reducing the amount of coal, but gas will still figure highly, namely in the Baltic Pipe and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) gas terminal developments. Maritime wind share may add 8GW up to 2035 and the first wind farms could be plugged in 2024-2025. The from areas are already earmarked for development in the strategy. Stryjecki concluded by saying that a balanced energy mix would consist of 53 per cent conventional energy and 43 per cent from renewables.

Support from the government

Grzegorz Witkowski, Deputy Minister for Maritime Economy and Inland Waterways, stated that “The government supports the development of maritime wind power, considering the fact that this area will be one of the driving forces behind the rebuilding of Polish maritime economy based on good solid foundations and will strengthen this area for many years to come.” He continued that the comprehensive approach to the maritime economy and considerations of the optimal development of marine areas remains a fundamental operation for the government.

The project is in line with the “master plan” regarding shipyards and which could be used to realize the ambitions of Polish wind farms. Polish shipyards with their experience and research facilities have a pivotal role to play in supporting the wind initiative-including oil and gas.

In Witkowski’s  opinion the development of marine wind energy also includes construction of support units, as well as wind farms themselves. These could be built by Polish companies based in the Tri-city (Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot) or Szczeciń, all experienced centers of production. He concluded by stating that the last two years have been spent in eradicating many unjustified factors that could limit production, including for marine wind energy.

World wind energy has increased by 17.6GW and investment has reached over USD38bn according to business portal www.biznesalert.pl. But so far, the investment for the Baltic area stops at the planning stage. The vision of an energy gap has galvanized Polish renewables associations, such as the Polish Offshore Wind Energy Society and the Polish Accord for Marine Energy Industry to co-operate more intensely with government and parliament.

The matter was debated in parliament in January 2018, and established the legal framework for an energy network. Unfortunately, the investment atmosphere remains unclear. The investor is obliged to bring the electricity generated to the coastline from where it will be carried further. This is a disincentive to development.

The energy gap is estimated at 16MW. Wind potential is estimated at 8-10 GW by 2035. Solar power, land-based turbines, and biogas may generate 3.5GW. Therefore, wind energy becomes increasingly relevant.

Mariusz Witoński, president of the Polish Association for Maritime Wind Energy, stated that there ought to be more engagement by PSE, the state-owned electricity transmission operator, in the legislative process to speed up changes, in order to enable construction to start in 2-3 years. Furthermore, the legal basis for trans-border operations should be developed with Poland linked to Scandinavia, for example. The first turbines under the present system could stat functioning by 2025

There is also Danish interest in Baltic wind energy. At the BEIF Ole Egberg Mikkelsen the Danish ambassador was optimistic about Danish-Polish co-operation in this sphere. Polish companies are already manufacturing components for Danish wind turbines.

Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, director of DG Energy (the European Commission Directorate General for Energy), stated that the construction of Baltic energy generating facilities would be a “very smart move in the right direction” and Baltic co-operation on the matter has great potential especially in the regional integration and climate change obligations. He suggested that the project could be granted PCI (Project of Common Interest) status, which could attract EU funds.

Eryk Kłossowski, CEO of PSE, said that the 8GW could be generated and sent radially straight to the coast and mainland. Clusters could supply up to 30GW with co-operation within the countries of the region. The economies of scale could then initiate a skeleton network for distribution and PSE would be interested in investing.

PGE (the state-owned energy supplier) and Polenergia (a private Polish energy group) intend to start construction of the wind farms in the Polish zone of the Baltic sea. The latter has recently concluded an agreement with Statoil the Norwegian energy concern, to construct wind farms generating 6000MW by 2030.

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