Offshore wind energy is short of specialized workforce

In 2040, Poland has a chance to become a mature market in the offshore wind energy industry, leading the way in the Baltic Sea basin. The conditions, however, are the adaptation of the port facilities, the development of innovation and the logistics and service infrastructure, as well as the construction of human resources that are lacking today – according to the new report “Energia (re) new” by ILF Consulting Engineers Polska. Experts indicate that the greatest challenge will be the greatest possible involvement of Polish enterprises in the development of the offshore sector. At the moment, optimistic estimates assume that the share of domestic suppliers of products and services in the Polish market, worth approx. PLN 130 billion, will not exceed 50 percent.

  • In order for Poland to become a mature offshore market, we must focus on infrastructure investments, the main element of which today should be ports. If we want to make the first investments and if we want them to be implemented by Polish ports, we need to start working today – emphasizes Mariusz Wójcik, head of the offshore and renewable energy team at ILF Consulting Engineers Polska in an interview with Newseria Biznes agency.

Currently, 11 European countries have offshore wind farms, with the UK, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands as leaders. Electricity from the first Polish wind farms in the Baltic Sea is to flow in 2024. According to the adopted in February this year. The “Polish energy policy until 2040” at the end of this decade, the capacity installed in offshore plants is to reach approx. 5.9 GW and approx. 11 GW in 2040.

  • These investments must start today and must be properly planned so that the implementation of several projects does not overlap, because then Polish ports will simply not be able to handle them. Production plants must also have adequate processing capacity – says Mariusz Wójcik. – The second element is the staff that we do not have in Poland today. Studies and postgraduate studies are launched, but there is a shortage of designers, people with experience, because they most often work abroad.

The government estimates that within 10 years, the development of offshore wind energy may contribute to the creation of 77,000 new jobs.

  • The involvement of Polish companies in this process will also be a challenge. We should strive to ensure that their participation is as large as possible, that the components are produced in Polish production plants, and that we have highly qualified staff, engaged by Polish entities – emphasizes the expert of ILF Consulting Engineers Polska.

Legal and procedural issues are another challenge. In February this year. the so-called offshore act, which is to ensure a stable legal framework for the construction of Polish wind farms in the Baltic Sea. It defines, inter alia, a support system and administrative facilities for such projects and the rules for connecting producers to the power grid. Experts from ILF Poland emphasize that, despite the binding provisions on the duration of administrative proceedings, they are repeatedly prolonged. The issuance of an environmental decision for an offshore farm or connection may take up to several years, and the approval of a geological works plan for more than six months. This translates into the extension of the investment process up to over 10 years.

  • Administrative procedures are one of the challenges and the offshore law has brought a lot to simplify them. However, there is still a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that these procedures are implemented and properly applied in the implementation of subsequent projects – says Mariusz Wójcik.

Experts warn that the accumulation of offshore investments may also be associated with challenges related to power evacuation. Most of the implemented projects are to be connected to one of two specially designated sites on land, which means a large number of cable investments in the same area. If they are not properly coordinated, the risk of social conflict will increase.

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