Can you please provide a detailed overview of the projects you have planned in the Baltic Sea and the milestones achieved so far?

We are currently engaged in green field project development activities for offshore wind farm (OWF) projects in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Polish Baltic Sea. For several projects, we have prepared and submitted applications to the relevant authorities, and these applications have been registered. Our next target is to obtain area permits for these projects.

Once the area permits are secured, we will proceed with the further development of the OWF projects. The next project milestones will include obtaining an environmental decision and ultimately receiving a building permit, followed by a positive investment decision. Alongside the OWF project development, we will conduct environmental investigations, a wind measurements campaign, geotechnical investigations, and prepare technical design documentation.

In addition to the project development activities, we are also establishing a comprehensive overview of the Polish supply chain, available infrastructure, relevant ministries and authorities, and the regulatory framework related to OWF development. Our aim is to share our experience from other offshore wind markets and contribute to the growth of the offshore wind sector in Poland.

How do you anticipate the offshore wind sector to evolve in Poland in the coming 3-5 years?

The Polish government has recognized offshore wind energy as a key resource to achieve higher levels of renewable energy in the national energy mix, and to fulfill requirements from the European Union. However, there are some challenges that need to be addressed for the sector to grow.

Currently, the market is awaiting two important regulatory instruments for the development of offshore wind in Poland. Firstly, in January 2020, the Polish Ministry of National Property published a draft for a legal act for offshore wind energy, which aims to establish a support mechanism, describe local content requirements, issues related to the permitting process, and grid connection. Secondly, the Maritime Offices in Sczczecin and Gdynia are preparing the final revision for a maritime spatial plan (MSP), expected to be published in Q1-2021, which will define the areas available for offshore wind development.

These regulatory instruments are crucial for providing investors with the necessary confidence to invest in offshore wind projects in Poland. In addition, other key challenges include grid connection, environmental impacts, military issues, and implementing a local content strategy.

Can you provide more details on the state of infrastructure and what is needed for a smooth integration of offshore wind energy in the national power system?

The power grid along the coast currently has sufficient free capacity to accommodate the electricity generated from the first offshore wind farm. However, in order to support the expected capacity of up to 10 GW of offshore wind energy, the grid will need to be improved and expanded. Medium and long-term investments are required in the electrical infrastructure to meet the targets.

Currently, each project developer, including Sea Wind, is planning its own grid connection. While this provides control and planning security from the perspective of the project developer, it may not be the most economical or environmentally-friendly solution. Having multiple grid connections for individual OWF projects will result in a large number of offshore and onshore cable corridors, which may not be desirable.

Do you already have an understanding of how the COVID-19 outbreak will impact your business and the energy sector in the short term?

The COVID-19 crisis is expected to have an impact on the energy sector, including the renewable energy industry. The falling energy prices and raw material costs are likely to affect the sector. In Poland and other European countries, energy sales have significantly decreased due to reduced energy consumption and lower energy prices in the wholesale markets. Overall, the industry is facing increasing challenges. The recovery of the economy is crucial for investment activities and the expansion of renewable energies. A slow or partial recovery of the economy may pose risks to achieving desired environmental policy goals.

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