Poland will need at least 6GW of offshore wind

Projects will need to come online in early 2020s to replace coal

Between 6 and 7.5GW of offshore wind capacity in the Polish Baltic Sea will be needed by the 2020s if Poland is to avoid a huge power deficit, according to scenarios outlined by the country’s Foundation for Sustainable Energy (FSE).

Upcoming closure of old and highly-polluting coal-fired power stations, as required by EU environmental legislation, will transform Poland’s energy sector and create space for large-scale, low-carbon options such as offshore wind and nuclear.

The country’s coal-based generating capacity is expected to halve by 2030, dropping to 12.7GW, as high-carbon coal switches off.

At the same time, Polish electricity demand is forecast to increase by 2.2% per year, according to transmission system operator, PSE Operator. In 2011, electricity demand peaked at 26.6GW and is predicted to reach 36GW by 2025 and 40.5GW in 2030.

Polish energy companies are planning to build up to 24GW in new capacity to replace redundant coal plants, but FSE argues that less than 10GW of this will end up being built.

Offshore wind will be "inevitable" - required to help bridge an up to 7.4GW gap between supply and demand, argues Maciej Stryjecki, FSE president and vice president of the Polish Offshore Wind Association (Powa).

In addition to offshore wind, FSE forecasts an increase in combined heat and power (CHP), further growth in onshore wind capacity, and, potentially, 6GW in new nuclear capacity.

Two scenarios have been prepared by. The first assumes 6GW of new nuclear, onshore wind capacity of 7GW and 6GW of offshore wind. FSE’s second scenario foresees no new nuclear capacity due to a combination of prohibitive cost and negative public attitudes to the technology’s risks. In this scenario, 7.5GW of offshore wind capacity would be needed.

As reported by Windpower Offshore, the Polish government has begun to award offshore wind development licenses, with Kulczyk Holding, PGE EO and PKN Orlen amongst license winnners. A full list of licensed offshore wind projects has not yet been published by authorities. As in other markets, grid expansion is likely to prove the most significant obstacle to rapid installation of offshore wind capacity.