Daniel Finch is the managing director of offshore wind developer, Ocean Winds UK. The company envisions that offshore wind will play a key role in the global energy transition. In his keynote speech at the virtual conference on Baltic offshore wind transmission conducted by the Global Transmission, he maps the journey of the company in developing wind projects, particularly in Poland.  He also elaborates on the challenges imposed by weak regulatory frameworks for wind energy development. Here are the key highlights from his presentation and remarks…

Ocean Winds is a 50-50 partnership between renewable energy companies, Engie and EDP Renewables (EDPR). The companies came together for two projects in France and subsequently decided to form a joint venture (JV). Ocean Winds has 1.5 GW in operation or under construction as of today and plans to increase it to up to 5-7 GW by 2025. It also has 4 GW of renewable energy capacity under development and aims to increase that to 5-10 GW over the next five years.

Individually, Engie had already developed the SeaMade project and EDPR had set up the Moray projects in the North of Scotland. Ocean Winds began operations with fixed projects in France with 500 MW capacity each in the locations of Treport and Noirmoutier. The company also has operations in the US where it partnered with Shell in developing the Mayflower project, off the east coast. It had also developed a new technology for floating wind which was used to execute an upcoming project off California. Among other floating wind projects is WindFLoat Atlantic off the Portuguese coast which was launched as a demonstration project initially but is being scaled up. Further, Ocean Winds has collaborated with Ignitis for projects in Lithuania and also proposed wind projects in Poland and the Mediterranean.  

Offshore wind operations in Poland

EDPR has a history of operating onshore wind projects in Poland for over 13 years. The company has stayed in the market at all times despite ups and downs from a regulatory perspective. Currently, it has an onshore capacity of 476 MW and a net capacity of 271.2 MW. The developer also has about nine projects with a cumulative capacity of 351.8 MW under construction. EDPR prioritised onshore wind even during the time where it was not popular. In 2012, the company decided to take part in the first round of offshore site permits. Seven bids were places and EDPR was successful in getting permits for 4 sites and so, the projects, Neptun and Pormoze I, II, III were in the books. Due to unclear regulations in offshore wind development in Poland, these projects have not been developed as of yet.

Ocean Winds has bought into two further projects which are already permitted, and the Environmental Impact Assessment process is underway which commenced in 2019. The geophysical survey has also commenced in early 2020. The two projects, B-Wind and C-Wind are 200 MW each and located in the Polish Maritime area, in relatively shallow water between 30-50 m: much lower than many projects in the UK. Offshore wind measurements to measure wind and ocean conditions have been taken and the grid conditions are being enhanced for the projects. They are to be granted a two-side contract-for-difference scheme with a consumer price indexed Strike Price and a 25-year tenure with a generation limit. Both sites are also included in the latest version of the Maritime Spatial Plan

Future plans

Going forward, Ocean Winds is looking for projects with the security of tenure and an auction process. The company is also looking for a government that is committed and demonstrates strong commitment through setting targets and taking appropriate legislation through parliament. Further, it hopes for interrelations with stakeholders like the transmission system operator to be strong and that grid connection will be delivered as per the specified date.

It is also important that the industry as a whole collaborates within Poland and even across borders with grid connection agreements and potential supply agreements. There is a need for a strong offshore wind supply chain; In the early years of any industry, the supply chain is interested and keen to take part, but it must also deliver even when the projects are operational.

Ocean Winds is optimistic that the four projects in Poland – Neptun, and the Pomorze I, II, and III will go on to be developed. With the expectation of new regulations for offshore wind in Poland, the company expects to be rewarded for its long-term presence in developing projects in Poland. In Lithuania, Ocean winds have been selected by Ignitis for the first offshore wind tender in the country which will be held in 2023. Ignitis also acquired a 5 per cent stake in Ocean Wind’s Moray West project in the UK. The move would benefit Ignitis in a way that it can draw lessons from the projects that are under development and apply these to projects in new geographies.