According to the Polish Energy Networks, Renewable Energy has the potential of producing more than 100 TWh per year of renewable energy by 2030, which will significantly exceed 50% of Poland's electricity demand.

WT's Director of Engineering, Christian LeBlanc Thilsted and Lead Project Manager, Wojciech Sitkiewicz, recently attended The Polish Wind Energy Association event in Serock, so we caught up with Wojciech to explore key takeaways, what’s next for the offshore wind industry in Poland, and how WT can assist in reaching the ambitious targets for this new and emerging market.

Wojciech, you recently attended the PWEA2023 conference, Can you take us through any key takeaways from the event and why it is important for the offshore wind industry in Poland?

It’s certainly the largest wind energy event in Poland, so provides a platform for key players within the industry to network, debate and collaborate. It provided us with some invaluable opportunities to meet and speak with developers about any requirements they may have for upcoming projects and how WT could potentially support. There were also some interesting panel discussions focussing on the challenges that the OSW industry in Poland is likely to face and debates surrounding the right strategies for overcoming such challenges.

What are some of the main challenges that the industry in Poland is likely to face?

It’s still quite early days for the industry in Poland. There have been two leasing rounds already decided, with the third expected to be based on the potential for new locations – this is estimated to exceed 17GW – but has not yet been announced officially. First permits were awarded to developers in 2012 and 2013 with the second set awarded in January and February this year (2023).

However, there is has been an industry-wide consensus that some of the sites that were awarded will struggle to be developed without some additional support from larger, international developers.

Local content can be very challenging in Poland as there is no minimum local content set by regulations and at this point, developers hope to reach 45% local content in their projects in round 2.

On top of this, there are major issues within the local supply chain and the ongoing rising costs surrounding the development for offshore wind. Since the start of projects in round 1, there has been substantial inflation in pricing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, the war in Ukraine, which means what seemed feasible and realistic a few years ago, is no longer the case.

The capacity for offshore wind here is substantial, however the way the Polish Energy Sector is structured, there are not enough power plants in the North of the country. Significant investment for the transmission grid will be required. This is likely to cause issues for the industry because even if developers succeed in hitting ambitious targets for generating this clean energy the grids may not even be ready to accept it.

How can Wood Thilsted support in helping to overcome some of these challenges?

Being based in Warsaw and having ‘boots on the ground’ can be really attractive and supportive for local content.

We also have a competitive advantage in our in-house software capabilities, meaning that we can undertake thorough design optimisations to save on steel, and subsequently costs too.

Projects from the second round will now focus mainly on pre-concept studies, therefore WT’s support to carry out geotechnical studies can help clients to shape a better business case and calculate LCOE more accurately. This will also massively support in improved positioning for those bidding in the competitive auction in 2025.

Harnessing WT’s expertise and services during the auction rounds can be extremely beneficial and has proven to help our clients not only win within the auction round, but also be highly commended through the level of accuracy and optimisation addressed throughout this early stage in the process. This can prove extremely invaluable for newer markets and where clients may not be as experienced within such areas.

Can you tell us about the potential for offshore wind in Poland, is there anything unique about this market in particular?

It depends on who you ask! Some say there are challenging geotechnical soils. However for us at Wood Thilsted, we have such strong experience and internal expertise in these areas that it’s not really a challenge at all. Our in-house tools also mean that intelligent automation can assess, predict and improve throughout the entire process, no matter what the conditions are.

What is very clear, is that the wind conditions are great – they’re strong and steady – which makes it a perfect region for offshore wind development.

Is there anything you are personally excited about?

Wood Thilsted were appointed as the wind turbine foundation designer for Ocean Winds first offshore windfarm in Poland, BC-Wind. It’s exciting for me to be working on the first ever offshore wind farm for Poland, and also any other projects in the pipeline. It’s very rewarding to have an impact on the overall timelines for delivering these projects that will support an extremely challenging target for the country.

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