New law doubles Poland's pipeline

POLAND: Changes to Poland's maritime law have delivered a big boost to offshore wind development. The country's offshore project pipeline more than doubled in the past two months from 1.7GW to 3.8GW. The rise is due to a mixture of new projects and increased capacity of projects announced a few years ago.

Jacek Podlewski, CEO of PGE Energia Odnawialna (PGE EO), the renewable arm of Poland's biggest power group, PGE, said last month the company planned to start permitting procedures for three offshore farms totalling 3.4GW. According to Podlewski, the first project should come online in seven or eight years. PGE EO could spend up to EUR11.9 billion on the projects, although Podlewski expects turbine prices to fall as the technology develops.

Meanwhile, a group of companies controlled by Kulczyk Holding, the enterprise belonging to Polish businessman Jan Kulczyk, started environmental permitting procedure for four offshore wind farms in Polish Baltic waters. The procedural work on projects with a total capacity of 200MW started in the summer, just a few weeks after parliament had introduced crucial changes to maritime law that enabled offshore wind-farm investments in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea. The amendments allowed for the building of "artificial islands", which is a precondition for erecting turbines at sea.

According to the country's Maritime Institute, there is potential for 7.1-17.9GW of installed wind-power capacity in Polish Baltic waters, producing 34.7-83.3TWh, depending on the capacity of turbines installed. But according to Polskie Sieci Morskie, a Polish engineering firm engaged in offshore projects, the current condition of the power grid in northern Poland may limit offshore development.

This region of the country is very attractive not only for wind developers, which are also working on onshore projects totalling around 6GW, but also for conventional power companies, which plan new gas and nuclear plants totalling another 7GW.

The grid solution may be to connect Polish offshore wind farms to a pan-European supergrid if and when this development takes place. Another answer may be doubling or even tripling the capacity of the 600MW undersea SwePol Link high-voltage direct-current cable that connects Poland and Sweden.