– The law has a direct impact on which projects can be implemented. Poland has a great opportunity to become a significant producer of green energy. Plans of liberalization of the so-called “Distance Law” are the right step and we should take advantage of this opportunity. From an ecological and economic perspective, renewable energy is an opportunity for us. We are a developing country and we should strive for sustainable development, said Paweł Przybylski, CEO of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in Poland, in an interview with the BiznesAlert.pl.
BiznesAlert.pl: Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has announced that it had received an order for delivery of 14 wind turbines in Poland. Is that the first such a large order received by your company in our country?
Paweł Przybylski: CEO of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in Poland: Siemens Gamesa has been actively involved in Polish wind energy for 16 years. Currently, over 500 wind turbines are in operation in our country, with a total capacity exceeding 1 GW. My company has been operating on Polish market since 2003 and employs about 100 people. During this time, SGRE successfully completed over 50 investments in the Polish wind energy sector. Barwice is not the largest project which has been implemented so far, because the wind farm in Margonin, which has a capacity of 120 MW is even larger and actually the largest installation of that kind in Poland.
The wind turbins towers in Barwice will be constructed in Poland. How do you estimate the production potential of local producers of wind farm components?
We have a wide network of local suppliers in Poland. These companies meet the most stringent quality standards, and additionally have extensive experience in this type of production. Cooperation with many qualified and successful suppliers, not only in wind energy industry, but also in other branches, proves that Poland has a huge potential for development of the wind sector. Especially that wind and renewable energy sources are a dynamically developing industry with broad range of opportunities.
We can produce windmill’s masts in Poland, but we cannot yet make a turbine which is a windmill’s heart. When it will be possible to manufacture this domestically?
In fact, many turbine’s components are manufactured in Poland right now. We work with domestic suppliers of blades and electrical components, and parts coming from Poland are significant elements of several turbine models. In 2018 we allocated approximately EUR 150 million / PLN 600 million in total for orders from the wind sector, so that our suppliers cooperate with us on major projects.
Poland, but also other EU countries are racing against the clock to reach the target on renewable energy by 2020. Have you noticed an increase of orders in the last 1-2 years?
We have been witnessing recently the dynamic development of wind energy in a whole Europe. However, the onshore market and the offshore market are both developing in two different directions. The offshore generates huge investments, and countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and France are aiming to achieve large production capacities basing on it by 2030. The Great Britain also has ambitious plans. London decided to double its production capacity to 30 GW. Onshore largely depends on local regulations, and the shifting to energy auctions slows down its development on some markets. However we can notice, especially in the Nordic countries, as well as in the USA, that solutions such as corporate PPA contracts (Power Purchase Agreements) while purchasing electricity directly from renewable energy producers, can cause a strong onshore development, as they provide a certain a kind of bonus against the market price of energy, which the project developer receives from the corporate customer.
We can meet the opinion that wind onshore farms will lose their importance after 2030, and wind offshore farms will gain it instead. Is the cheapest source of energy, which experts say is currently the wind on land will lose its importance in 10-12 years’ time?
Technological development is progressing very quickly, we already see huge changes in technologies which include
increasing of efficiency, in addition, the maintenance of turbines is increasingly more efficient, both on land and sea farms. I am convinced that the wind – and other renewable energy sources – will become more and more affordable, and positive investment examples will attract potential investors. At the end of the day, the future energy landscape will be – and must be – diversified, so that every source of energy will be needed and will take a specific perspective of development.
The Polish government announces the liberalization of the so-called “Distance Law”. Will it unblock the development of wind onshore farms?
Certainly the rules have a direct impact on which projects can be implemented. Poland has a great opportunity to become a significant producer of green energy. I think that the new law is the right step and we should take advantage of this opportunity. From an ecological and economic point of view, renewable energy is an opportunity for us. We are a developing country and we should strive for sustainable development.
Also Germany and France had problems with locating new wind onshore farms in 2017 and in 2018, because residents of nearby areas were protesting against them. Have you noticed a drop of orders in these countries?
The number of new wind onshore farms in Germany and France has dropped according to the data published by local onshore associations. As reported by the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), in 2018 were created almost 750 land turbines, what means a 55 percent decrease compared to the previous year. In France, number of installations fell from 1,692 MW in 2017 to 1,565 MW in 2018. However we do not refer to the situation in individual countries, so I would not like to discuss the development of wind energy too extensively. Certainly, the current situation on the European market is uneven.
According to the WindEurope, around 2027, the wind will be the basic source of electrical energy. However, it needs a support from other more stable source of energy. What kind of source could it be in Poland or Germany?
The future of energy from renewable sources will be large-scale energy storage. We developed a technology based on storage of energy as a heat closed in volcanic stones. This concept allows to store huge amounts of energy for many days or even weeks – for a low price and with low maintenance requirements.
Currently in Hamburg is being built a test facility which is directly connected to the network, and it will store up to 1.5 MWh. The next projects will reach the scale measured in GWh. If this concept works, and we are convinced that it does, it is very likely that it will contribute to a huge changes on the whole energy market.
Interview by Bartłomiej Sawicki