We are fully prepared to implement our investment in the Baltic Sea. The preparations are on schedule. We are doing our best to increase the share of local content as much as possible, we are confident about this – says Robert Grzegorowski, Senior Manager at RWE’s Project Management Office in Poland, in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
BiznesAlert.pl: What is the schedule of RWE’s offshore investments in Poland? Is everything going according to plan?
Robert Grzegorowski: The schedule for the FEW Baltic II endeavor is no different in its general part to the phases of other offshore wind farm projects. At this point, we are in a late stage of development, we have completed preliminary engineering works, we have moved to the tender phase, which will last for the next 1.5 years. In June 2023 we will start another important stage, when we will make an internal decision about financing the project, the so-called FID. That’s when we will move from the low-cost phase to the high-cost phase. Then we will enter the phase where our contracts, which are currently being negotiated, will already be finalized, which will kick off the phase of preparing the components, prefabrication. Then from 2023, 2024 and 2025 the components production phase will continue, in 2025 the logistics phase will start and we will take the components to the port. Everyone’s biggest challenge is connecting to the onshore grid. We are actively talking with PSE, believing that the connection point near Ustka, selected for our project, will be ready on time. We are reaching individual milestones, we are waiting for the final environmental decision, this year we obtained preliminary approval from the Energy Regulatory Office (ERO), the plan for the local content was also approved. Last year in December we obtained the connection conditions and signed the connection agreement. So far the project is going according to schedule.
Have any of your company’s actions yielded unexpected results?
No. There is always a risk when it comes to conducting research, implementation time and final results. As for the measurement of windiness, it was completed with the results that we expected. It’s a good forecaster for this investment. As far as seabed studies are concerned, the results confirmed previous predictions, and therefore I can say that the preferred type of foundation will be a monopile. We will repeat the studies to confirm this conclusively.
Is the technical specification being carried out at the same time?
Yes, it is. We have already chosen the foundation, we are finalizing the talks with the turbine supplier, we are looking for a provider of the offshore power substation, we are talking to Polish providers of onshore power substations. Building foundations is a big opportunity for local content – we are considering possible scenarios, where it could reach the maximum level without putting our investment at risk. We are also in talks with cable suppliers, including a Polish one.
How will local content evolve over time?
Local content is a key aspect of our first investment in Poland. When submitting documents to the ERO, we have also prepared a supply chain plan. We looked into solutions used in the UK, the USA and Japan. We carried out analyses to present a level of local content that is both the most ambitious and achievable, and we pledged that its participation at the CAPEX phase of the project would reach 20-25 percent, but the figure may go up to as much as 70 percent during the OPEX stage. During the entire life-cycle of the project it will be at approximately 40 percent. This is an ambitious assumption, which we based on our experience on global markets, but we believe that we will be able to achieve it by utilising current and future Polish suppliers from the offshore wind sector. A large part of our team on the Polish side works with potential Polish suppliers. Today, global players remain the main suppliers in the field of turbines and other major offshore wind components. When we talk to them, we address the LC issues at a very early stage of the tender process.
For us, local content is a mission that we want to complete as a foreign developer, believing that our Polish suppliers will become important providers on the global market within 5-7 years. The supply chain is developed in Poland, because of the high quality of the products. Ultimately, we also think that foreign markets, especially the European market, can also be powered by products from Poland.
At what stage are the preparations for the selection of the installation and service port?
As of today, I cannot point to a specific port, we are trying to find a Polish port, we care about this because of the declared level of local content. Logistics and port selection are important to us, because of the schedule. If the port is not ready on time, there will be a high risk associated with the implementation of the project. Our project is small and it is much easier for us to talk to the ports. The installation port is one of the main risks, logistics is very important for our team, we need to look for an installation port in Poland, if not Gdynia or Gdańsk, then an alternative one. We participate in all the working groups that are involved both in the sector agreement and in talks with the ministry, we lobby and indicate how important it is that the port is ready on time.
What about the service port?
In this cases the situation is simpler. We can already point to the port in Ustka, a few weeks ago at a meeting of the Ustka city council we submitted a plan on what this port could look like. For a long time, we have been engaged in a dialogue with the city and port authorities, taking into account the benefits that our activities will bring to the local community. We listen to the needs of the local government and indicate our needs, we believe that it will be built.
We know that in the second phase of granting offshore concessions, state-owned companies will have the upper hand. How does RWE see this?
RWE, being present on the Polish market, is looking into growing our business in the Baltic, we perceive Poland as a very attractive market. Poland is currently the most attractive market in Europe, because of the balance between its potential and opportunities. We think 11 GW in offshore is too low. We are looking into the potential of our portfolio in Poland, which is a very important market for us.
Interview by Mariusz Marszałkowski