Wojciech Dąbrowski, President of the Management Board of PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, opened an international Politico discussion on the role of offshore wind energy in achieving the European Union's climate neutrality target by 2050. The high-level debate was attended, among others, by Michał Kurtyka - the Minister of Climate and Environment and the EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson.
The event was also attended by Gilles Dickson – head of the European Wind Europe association and Patrick Graichen - executive director representing the Agora Energiewende think-tank. The topic of the debate was the future shape of the market environment for offshore projects and the challenges and opportunities in the context of the objectives of the EU's strategy for offshore wind energy.
In his speech, President of the Management Board of PGE Wojciech Dąbrowski emphasized the important role that offshore wind energy will play in Poland's and the PGE Group's energy transition. - By 2030, we want to commission 2.5 GW of new offshore capacity. Together with Ørsted, we have received approval from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to establish a joint venture, which will allow us to implement projects with a total capacity of up to 2.5 GW. The development of this sector will also be crucial in the recovery of economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, as it will revive investment in the port industry, shipbuilding, but also in the back-end technical infrastructure for offshore wind farms. The prospects for financing these projects are encouraging. - We are also currently observing a very favourable approach of financial institutions to financing offshore projects. We can see their great willingness to get involved in this investment programme, which in the long run will contribute to Poland's energy transition. We believe that the future EU regulatory environment will also support these investments.
Nevertheless, further investment boosts and additional financial support are needed, e.g. through measures in the Polish National Recovery Plan currently under consultation.
As President of PGE Wojciech Dąbrowski pointed out, the success of the EU offshore strategy will depend primarily on the deep cooperation of all market participants and their commitment to developing the most optimal solutions. - The development of offshore wind energy is crucial for the whole energy sector in the European Union. European economies are setting their ambitious climate targets. However, in order to meet them, it is crucial to involve all stakeholders in cooperation and dialogue at the earliest possible stage, especially offshore wind farm developers, who ultimately bear the greatest investment and financial risk.
President Dąbrowski also stressed the need for broader support for offshore wind farm projects within the framework of instruments aimed at mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19 and for dedicating more funds for this purpose within the framework of the National Recovery Plan.
In the view of Commissioner Kadri Simson, offshore wind energy is key to achieving the European Union's climate neutrality target by 2050. The Commissioner underlined that the specificities of offshore project development require a very long preparation time. For this reason, in the framework of the draft revision of the Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (REDII) that is currently being prepared, but also in the framework of the new draft regulation on Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E), the Commission will propose streamlining the process of obtaining the necessary permits for these plants. According to Commissioner Simson, the future development of the sector will depend primarily on regional cooperation and the spatial planning of individual maritime areas. At the same time, all action must take into account public participation and the voice of other sectors that use the maritime areas. At the same time, the Commission wants to be actively involved in spatial planning.
Minister Michał Kurtyka highlighted Poland's achievements in reducing emissions to date and its future plans resulting from the adopted Energy Policy of Poland until 2040. The development of offshore wind energy, regulated in the new act, is a strategic goal for the Polish economy, industry and the construction of a new energy system model with an increasing the share of RES. The Minister assessed positively the progress made within the framework of the "Baltic Declaration" signed last September, which is also supported by the European Commission. The Minister also noted that the spatial plan for Baltic Sea is being finished and its implementation will require deep cooperation between national institutions, government offices and all stakeholders.
Giles Dickson pointed to maritime spatial planning, the development of network infrastructure, both maritime and land-based, and the construction of a true European supply chain as the three main factors of success for the EU's strategy. He also stressed that the idea of developing offshore wind energy is in line with the goals of just transition, by creating new jobs in accompanying sectors, such as ports. In the opinion of the head of Wind Europe, the cooperation of absolutely all stakeholders is crucial. Commenting on future technological developments, he pointed out that hybrid projects (i.e. combining wind generation and interconnectors) need to be evaluated very carefully, and that floating offshore wind farms will play an increasingly important role in the future, especially where the conditions of particular seas do not allow to build standard plants.
Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende pointed to offshore and onshore wind energy and photovoltaics as key to achieving EU's objectives, mainly due to their decreasing costs. Faced with an unprecedented scale of investment, all of these technologies must be developed thoughtfully. The electricity from these plants can also be used in electrolysis to produce green hydrogen within the EU, without having to import it in the future. Therefore, the Commission should implement all legal tools to facilitate the construction of new RES capacities and ensure their spatial planning, not only in maritime areas but also within the grid on land.
The results of a poll conducted among the participants of the debate indicate that 37 percent of respondents consider cooperation between sectors using maritime areas and searching for synergies as the main factor that will determine the success of the offshore sector development in the context of the 2050 objectives. In contrast, 32 percent believe that incentives are needed for all types of offshore projects.