Kluczowe decyzje i kamienie milowe – PGE podsumowuje rok w offshore
One of the most important events of the last year for PGE Baltica, the company managing PGE Group’s offshore program, was to present plans for the management of port facilities in Ustka to become the operating and maintenance base that will serve future offshore projects.
The selection of that town has been in the air for almost a year now, when PGE signed an agreement with local authorities to set up its maintenance facilities at the Port of Ustka for future offshore wind farms. However, it was only in autumn 2022 – following a period of administrative licences and permits, and finalisation of purchase of about 3 ha of port land property – that PGE Baltica finally confirmed the Ustka Port to be the one to serve PGE Group offshore projects going forward.
– Despite that the area needs thorough re-development and upgrade, the Ustka location is the optimal choice for us. Owing to good navigational and technical conditions of the port, especially appropriate depth of the approach and the port channel, service vessels will be able to set off to serve offshore wind farms – said Dariusz Lociński, President of the Management Board, PGE Baltica, in October when he presented the plans at the Ustka Port.
The Ustka project will not only change the image of the port itself, but it will also spur the development of the entire region. The construction and subsequent operation of the maintenance port and the Offshore Wind Power Competence Centre planned by PGE Baltica to be established on site will also create new jobs.
Baltica 2 + Baltica 3 = Baltica Offshore Wind Farm
In August, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Gdansk issued the Environmental Permit for the onshore grid connection of the Baltica Offshore Wind Farm. The permit will enable power export for both stages of the wind power plant – Baltica 2 and Baltica 3, which have been developed jointly by PGE Group and Ørsted. Environmental agreements have been reached already in January 2020. Mr Wojciech Dąbrowski, President of the Management Board, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), just after receiving the permit, emphasised that this marked the completion of an important development stage, lasting several months, for the construction of the offshore wind farm with grid connection infrastructure. The next stage was for investors to start preparing the design documentation necessary for obtaining construction permits.
In the meantime, PGE and Ørsted were granted a decision by the European Commission on the individual price for the Contract of Difference for both Baltica 2 and Baltica 3, the project stages of Baltica Offshore Wind Farm developed jointly by both companies. These have been the first offshore power projects in Poland with the approved individual support on the European Commission level.
This year has been also intensive for the project partners in that they launched several key tenders, including for a General Contractor of the onshore power export part of the project, as well as the Contract Engineer. A tendering procedure was also concluded to award a contract for the building permit design of the offshore wind farm, among others.
In the spring, the partners jointly held two meetings with potential supplies and subcontractors. The first one was in the online format. Representatives of PGE Baltica and Ørsted presented the project and the contracts to be awarded by tender in the near future, and answered any questions from the audience. The virtual event gathered almost 800 representatives of potential suppliers, subcontractors and other stakeholders keen to be involved in Baltica Offshore Wind Farm construction, including more than 500 from Poland. In June, at an industry conference, both companies held presentations and workshops on QHSE, where they focused on the requirements and standards in that area to be met by potential contractors.
PGE Baltica and Ørsted, together with other investors, have been also engaged in the establishment and implementation of the “Choczewo: A Wind-Powered Community” program. This is due to the fact that the Choczewo municipality will host onshore infrastructure used for power export from offshore wind farms. The initiative based on permanent collaboration with the residents is to involve them in the development and implementation of ideas for changes in their local communities. The investors have financed the most promising residents’ ideas in several thematic areas, at the same time educating them about offshore wind power. Already before program start, in late winter, representatives of PGE Baltica and Ørsted have held a series of info meetings on planned projects in several villages of the Choczewo Municipality.
Baltica 1 – measuring of wind resources and metocean data collection
For Baltica 1 offshore wind farm, which is to be implemented early in the next decade, PGE Baltica has started measurements of wind, waves and sea currents. In May, a special measuring buoy was taken out to the sea from Władysławowo Port and, following a period of instrument calibration, was anchored in place at the measurement site. The studies will last two years – this is a period to allow for obtaining representative data on weather conditions at the future offshore wind farm’s site.
– The measurements will constitute an invaluable database for the next stages of the development of this project, especially for arranging of wind turbines during installation, so that the power is used in the most effective way – said Mr Dariusz Lociński, President of the Management Board, PGE Baltica, on the occasion of launching the measurements.
In the autumn, environmental studies also started for this project. The environmental campaign comprises a number of detailed studies and analyses to allow us to properly develop the project and obtain the necessary official permits. In addition to the wind farm site, the studies will also cover the offshore and onshore area where the grid connection infrastructure will be located.
Baltica 1, with installed capacity of about 0.9 GW, will be situated in the Central Shoal (Ławica Środkowa), about 80 km off the Polish shore of the Baltic Sea, to the north of the Baltica Offshore Wind Farm which comprises Baltica 2 and Baltica 3 stages. The project has already been given the location permit and the grid connection agreement was concluded.
Partnership with Research Community
PGE Baltica has started developing a research network. In this way the company intends to involve Polish universities and research institutions in the development of the Polish offshore wind sector. On the one hand, such partnership enables elaborating new technologies for offshore wind power based on joint R&D projects, and, on the other hand, provides perfect basis for educating future staff so needed in the sector in Poland. PGE Baltica has conducted offshore-related postgraduate study programs in partnership with Gdynia Maritime University, Gdansk University of Technology, and Lazarski University in Warsaw. In addition, PGE Baltica got involved at Gdansk University of Technology with a Master-of-Science specialty of design and construction of offshore power systems. Aimed at establishing a comprehensive educational program for young people interested in career in offshore wind power, the company also invited Pomeranian secondary technical schools of Ustka and Malbork to join a partnership to demonstrate the students, already at this stage of their education, the opportunities offered by working for offshore wind farms.
An important focal point of this cooperation map will be the Offshore Wind Power Competence Centre to be established in Ustka. This establishment will be at the heart of the ecosystem developed by PGE Baltica to link research community with the offshore wind industry. Its facilities will host employee training and licence certification. Project teams will be working there to develop new technologies to improve the efficiency of offshore wind farms. In R&D, in addition to universities, PGE Baltica has also worked with Gdansk institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
New Year, New Progress
The turn of 2023 will bring the conclusion of procedures to award location permits for Phase II projects. PGE Group has applied for eight such permits, which will enable it to achieve its strategic goal of at least 6.5 GW of installed capacity in offshore wind farms by 2040. Applying for location permits for artificial islands has been configured by the legislators as a very competitive process which will drive the capacities of the projects planned by the developers in the decades to come. Application for each site is governed by its own time schedule.
The projects carried out by PGE together with Ørsted also await for the conclusion of new important tenders, as well as the necessary studies that are underway, including geotechnical surveys. Upon receiving construction permits and taking the final investment decision, construction works will begin to build the onshore substation being part of offshore power export infrastructure. In the coming years, offshore construction will be underway, and the Baltica Offshore Wind Farm combining Baltica 2+3 will start feeding power to the grid, anticipated in 2026 for Baltica 3 with the capacity of about 1 GW, and in 2027 for Baltica 2 with the capacity of about 1.5 GW.