Energy Renewables 14 September, 2020 10:00 am   
COMMENTS: Mateusz Gibała

Mathiesen: RWE can start working on offshore in Poland in four years (INTERVIEW)

We are pleased with the pace of work on the act on supporting offshore wind energy. In order to move to the next stage of development of our offshore development projects, the act should be adopted by the end of this year at the latest. Our projects are at different stages of development and are located near the Słupsk sandbank. Their construction may begin already in 2023/2024 – said Holger Matthiesen from RWE Renewables, responsible for the development of offshore projects in Scandinavia, Poland and the Baltic States, in an interview with RWE has been present on the onshore wind farm market in Poland for several years. Offshore, however, is a new sector of the company’s involvement in this country. How many projects does the company have in Poland?

Holger Matthiesen: We have considerable experience in Poland through our longstanding and growing onshore operations. We operate about a dozen onshore wind farms in the country with a total capacity of almost 400 MW. In addition we have acquired in October 2019 four offshore development projects in Poland with a total generation capacity of more than 1.5 GW and a team of experts located in Słupsk and Gdynia. The projects are in various stages of development and they are located around the Słupsk sandbank. Since than we have progressed the development activities and are optimistic to be qualified with one project in the first phase. The construction of the first project could start in three to four years, if the regulatory framework is set and the grid connection is secured.

What does keeping this deadline depend on?

As one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies RWE Renewables sees great potential for offshore wind on the central Polish Baltic Sea and we are ready to invest – but offshore wind projects require stable framework conditions. The implementation of the Offshore Act and the Maritime Spatial Plan is a key to move our Offshore development projects forward. Additionally the grid connection needs to be realised in time. This would be the solid basis to keep the mentioned timing of construction start in 2023/2024.

How do you evaluate the act on supporting and promoting offshore wind energy in Poland?

The process of works and consultations on the offshore act ran smoothly, despite the challenges from the Corona pandemic. Deputy Minister of Climate, Ireneusz Zyska, announced at the Serock Conference in August that the law will be adopted in October by the Polish Parliament, and will enter into force in November this year. We are very pleased to hear, that the process will come to an end and we are looking forward to continue our development activities. This is of course one important step – but only the starting piece of a complex puzzle. We hope and are confident that the rest of the puzzle will be adopted as soon as possible, such as a maritime development plan.

Based on the draft act, it can conclude that Poland has adopted the British model of cooperation based on the so-called sector agreement. How do you evaluate this variant in comparison to Germany or Denmark?

RWE is the second biggest player in offshore wind globally. Our offshore wind farms in operation in Europe have a capacity of 2.5 GW (pro rata view). We are active in several European markets, e.g. in Denmark, Germany and Great Britain. In each of these markets there are different cooperation models developed to ensure the alignment with the local supply sector. We are experienced in working hand in hand with local businesses to grow the national and regional supply chain. Independent of the existing model our offshore projects support valuable economic investment and regeneration into coastal infrastructure and areas. Poland is inclined to adopt the British model of cooperation, which is for us absolutely understandable and transparent due to the fact that the UK is one of our core markets. We believe that the direction, chosen by the Polish government, will allow a rapid development of the offshore sector in Poland.

How do you assess the potential of Polish companies that can participate in the entire offshore supply chain?

We are one of the signatories of the Letter of Intent on Cooperation for Development of Offshore Wind Energy in Poland. We support this sectoral agreement with the Polish Ministry of Climate in line with our commitment to developing quality renewables projects and a long-term market presence. We believe that this is the right path chosen by the Polish government to support local suppliers in becoming active in the offshore wind sector. And some Polish companies are already ready to act as suppliers for the construction of wind farms in the Baltic Sea. For example, our company already has a mapped network of Polish suppliers based on the experiences we have made with Polish companies during the construction of our European offshore wind farms. Lotos Petrobaltic for example is a supplier we are currently working with. In general it is worth having ambitions and developing an ever-larger supply chain. However, we are convinced that the entire market and supply chain, including the level of involvement of domestic suppliers, should not be fully regulated.

The RWE Group sold issued shares worth two billion euros in August. The funds are to be allocated to a special RES fund. Is the issuance of shares by the company a good way to obtain fresh cash for new RES investments, from concerns that, like RWE, still have a share of coal in production?

RWE has a clear target: To be carbon neutral by 2040. We are on a clear path transforming into a leading global renewable energy company. Already more than 85% of our today’s investments comply with draft green investment criteria. Already today, RWE Group has a power generation capacity of about 10 gigawatts based on renewables. And we want to expand this position: By the end of 2022, we target to invest €5 billion net in renewable energy and to grow our renewables portfolio to 13 gigawatts of net capacity. Beyond this, the we plans to further grow in wind and solar power.

Interview by Bartłomiej Sawicki