Will Offshore Wind Power Feature on the Polish Horizon?

Although the offshore wind energy market is well-established in Western Europe, primarily in the UK and Denmark, central and eastern European nations have yet to appear on the offshore wind farm market map.

Analysis by Frost & Sullivan shows that in Poland, the total installed capacity reached 1,005 MW in June 2010, all located onshore. Although some developers, such as PGE (Polish Energy Group), have expressed an interest in establishing offshore wind farms, the country presently lacks the wherewithal and support to implement these wind farm developments.

The most formidable obstructions faced by the sector include the present absence of legislation enabling offshore wind turbines projects, undeveloped grid infrastructure, and the lack of grid connectivity.

"Besides grid issues and a lack of legislation," says Frost & Sullivan analyst Magdalena Dziegielewska, "several other aspects are holding the offshore wind power market development back. One of them is that offshore platforms are established as artificial islands which, according to the Polish law, can only exist for 5 years. This is a complication, as the investment process takes approximately 7 to 8 years and the wind farm operates for at least 20-25 years."

However, recent changes bode well for the wind power market. External pressure placed on Poland is encouraging a move towards offshore wind farms.

In order to fulfill EU obligations, Poland will have to boost its total wind power installed capacity from the present 1,005 MW to 10,000-12,000 MW by 2020, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). This increase will be very difficult to achieve without the high productivity of offshore wind energy farms.

Also, the Polish Marine Network Consortium has been created to spur development and remove barriers faced by the sector. "One way to do so," says Dziegielewska, "is to develop the Polish Baltic Track in order to establish a high voltage, transmission submarine network. This will assist in connecting offshore wind farm power transformers with a main grid to allow future connections of wind farms."

An optimistic outlook suggests that with the necessary legislative changes and grid development, the first offshore wind turbines may be established during the next 10 years.