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Poland gives six companies rights for Baltic wind farms

The Polish government has revealed to Recharge that six companies have been given a total of 15 licences for development of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea.

Licences have been granted by the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy to local firms PGE Energia Odnawialna, PKN Orlen, Polenergia, Generpol, and Baltex Energia, plus Belgium’s Deme Group.

The permissions cover projects within the Polish Economic Zone, which extends up to 19km from the shore. The licences are valid for 30 years, although they could be extended for a further 20 years.

It is understood major foreign groups have applied for licences and are still waiting for a ministry decision, including EDPR, Iberdrola and Dong Energy.

Sources tell Recharge that so far only PGE and Polenergia have negotiated connection agreements with Polish transmission grid operator, PSE Operator.

The PGE agreement, completed in August, allows it to build 1.045GW of capacity, while Polenergia’s deal, struck at the end of October, covers 1.2GW.

Polish transport minister Slawomir Nowak says northern Poland could be the nation’s energy hub and exporter. Wind, nuclear and gas projects are all being pursued in the region.

Poland is looking to offshore wind farms as it seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports. Currently Poland has no operating offshore wind farms, despite interest from domestic and foreign investors.

The barriers to the development of offshore wind have, up until now, included a lack of political will, legal and administrative difficulties and the general economic conditions. However, recently the first steps have been taken to create favourable legal conditions for offshore development.

The Polish government is trying to decrease Russia’s control over its energy market, while at the same time meet EU recommendations to increase its renewable energy production.

The total Polish maritime area covers around 33,000 sq km, out of which the areas identified as potential locations for offshore wind farms covers around 2,000 sq km. The areas seen as potential offshore wind farm sites are located in three zones – the western, northern and middle.

No date has yet been set for opening the first wind farm because experts need to assess their possible effects on the environment.

They must also convince residents and fishermen that possible “artificial islands” – as the wind farms are classed under Polish rules – in the Baltic will offer new workplaces and not ruin the region’s fishing industry or its value for vacationers.