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The year 2024 will bring important decisions for the Baltic...

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The year 2024 will bring important decisions for the Baltic offshore wind farms

Construction permits for the Baltic II and Baltic III offshore wind farms, and further preparing the Baltic I farm project for auction are the most important milestones Equinor and Polenergia expect in 2024. The last 12 months have brought the implementation of the Baltic projects much closer. Three wind farms with a total capacity of 3 GW will supply more than 4 million households with renewable energy.

First power from the most advanced offshore wind farms, Bałtyk II and Bałtyk III, with a total capacity of 1.44 GW, is expected in the Polish energy system as early as 2027.  The Baltic I project, which is under construction in the next stage, with a capacity of 1.56 GW, is in turn expected to be ready for the auction planned for 2025. The farms will be located at the level of Łeba at 22 km (Bałtyk III), 37 km (Bałtyk II) and over 80 km (Bałtyk I) from the coastline.

2023 has brought us a step closer to the realization of all three projects. The Baltic offshore wind farms are key investments for the transformation of the Polish energy sector and important for the Polish economy. The wind turbines erected offshore will enable green energy delivery to millions of consumers. This means a significant acceleration of the decarbonization process and an improvement in the quality of life of our country's residents. In the past year, we have carried out all the assumed investment stages as planned.

Adam Ferens

Director of the Offshore Wind Farms Department at Polenergia Group

In 2023, Equinor and Polenergia performed detailed geophysical and geotechnical surveys of the seabed, which provided important data for the Baltic II and Baltic III projects. The results will now be used to design the foundations for about 100 wind turbines, 2 offshore substations, a corridor for the export cable and the connection of this corridor to the onshore transmission infrastructure near Ustka.

The months-long study we have carried out is an important milestone that paves the way for our Baltic II and Baltic III projects to obtain construction permits and brings us closer to a final investment decision. Baltic I, which is the most advanced project of the second phase of offshore development in Poland, according to our assumption, should be ready for auction in 2025. We already have a location permit and a connection agreement with PSE. Now we are working on obtaining an environmental decision.

Michał Kołodziejczyk

CEO of Equinor in Poland

The investors have already completed several months of geological surveys of the seabed at the site where Baltic I. will be located. Equinor and Polenergia have also completed more than a year’s worth of wind and wave intensity studies for the project, which will allow them to determine the anticipated production of green energy, and to begin designing the farm – from the location of the turbines to the selection of foundations or blades.

Suppliers of key components

Equinor and Polenergia have already selected major suppliers of key components for the Baltic II and Baltic III projects. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has been selected as the preferred turbine supplier, and Hitachi Energy as the general contractor for the power systems infrastructure. Nearly half a thousand domestic entrepreneurs, interested in joining the so-called “local content”, took part in two editions of the Supplier Day in 2023 with both companies. Such meetings are an opportunity to increase their chances of participating in projects. Polish subcontractors and service providers are to be important links in the local supply chain that Equinor and Polenergia are building.

The investors also already have secured contracts for the design, manufacture, supply and installation of internal cables and export cables for the Baltic II and Baltic III offshore wind farms. The internal cables will be supplied and installed by Seaway7. In turn, the contract for offshore export cables was awarded to an international consortium formed by Jan de Nul and Hellenic Cables.

In 2023, Equinor and Polenergia also signed reservation agreements with SIF Netherlands B.V., which will supply monopiles for wind turbines for the Baltic II and Baltic III projects. In turn, the agreement with DNV guarantees certification of the offshore parts of both wind farms.

We expect to finalize more contracts in 2024. We are currently conducting tenders and negotiations for installation vessels, delivery of foundations and connection infrastructure in the onshore part. This year will also mark the beginning of construction work on our service base in Leba, which will service the emerging offshore wind farms in the Baltic. The investment potential of the Polish offshore is much greater than the assumed18 GW. Even more reason why we are ready to cooperate on further investments using our international experience and knowledge.

Michał Kołodziejczyk

The service base in Leba, as a logistics and operations center, will be responsible for the safe and proper operation of the Baltic II and Baltic III offshore wind farms for 30 years of their operation. On the site of the former shipyard, with the support of local contractors and suppliers, modern office space, a center for remote control, control and operation of the wind farms, a warehouse for spare parts, and a wharf for mooring vessels will be built.

The environmentally and people-friendly space will be realized based on a design selected in 2023 by the Gdańsk-based architectural firm B-CA. The investment will create an opportunity for the development of the city and the local port, as well as new jobs. About 100 specialists will find employment at the base for many years.

Education and security

Investments by Equinor and Polenergia could generate as many as 10,000 jobs, both at the Baltic projects themselves and in companies that will be suppliers and sub-suppliers of components and services. Skilled workers’ availability will play a key role in the development of the entire industry. That’s why Equinor and Polenergia will continue – as part of the “Academy of Maritime Competencies,” one of their flagship programs – numerous activities related to education and training of future personnel at all levels of education.

In 2023, this included the companies’ participation in the EDU Offshore Wind Career Fair in Gdansk. The event attracted several thousand schoolchildren, students, graduates and those looking for a career change. At the Equinor and Polenergia booths, they were able to deepen their knowledge of labor market expectations, the recruitment process, and desired competencies.

Last year, the companies also conducted an educational project “One Sea, Many Benefits. Offshore wind energy in my region”.  Almost one and a half thousand children from six elementary schools in the Slupsk region took part in classes on renewable energy sources and the benefits of their development. This year, the project will conclude with the announcement of the results of an art competition, in which students will present their own perspective on the perception of offshore wind energy.

The companies are also directing educational activities to representatives of government, military and emergency services units. Together with Squadron, they organized a workshop on safety at sea for them. The purpose of the interactive exercises simulating accidents at sea was to improve practical skills in potential emergencies and how to respond appropriately to them.

Involvement in local communities

The “Baltic Offshore Wind Farm Information Center” opened last year by Equinor and Polenergia in Leba also plays an educational role. This is Poland’s first year-round information and education point about offshore wind energy and investors’ projects in the Baltic Sea. You can also get information about the service base in Leba, career prospects and jobs. The center is also a place for educational activities for children and young people and talks given by Equinor and Polenergia to the local community.

Our activities in 2023 were wide-ranging. From environmental studies and signing key contracts with suppliers, to educational projects aimed at future cadres, to dialogue with the local community and active involvement in its daily life. We want to be a reliable partner for the region adjacent to our investments. We will live close to each other for almost three decades of operation of the Baltic projects. Cooperation with Pomeranian residents and local governments allows us to get to know their needs and meet these expectations.

Marta Porzuczek

Director of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development at Polenergia Group

Last year, investor representatives regularly met with the local community. During the quarterly meetings, residents received up-to-date and detailed information on the advancement of projects or job prospects in the offshore wind industry, as well as answers to their questions, comments and requests.

Equinor and Polenergia have already established themselves in the life of the Słupsk region community. In July, representatives of the companies together with residents and tourists celebrated the 666th anniversary of the granting of city rights and the 25th anniversary of the Duchy of Łeba, and in September – the harvest festival of Słupsk Municipality. The great interest in the companies’ stands, which brought the subject of the energy transition and the new dynamic industry in an accessible way, strengthened investors’ conviction that strong local involvement is a very important part of the investment process.

Its success depends, among other things, on dialogue and cooperation with all parties and communities. These were also the conclusions of the participants of the roundtable organized by Equinor with Polenergia during the Offshore Wind Poland 2023 conference. The active participation of the companies in other industry conferences and panels, such as the PWEA Conference in Serock and in the work of Sector Understanding, also served to develop common positions.

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