Offshore innovations are in demand, as are local suppliers

The construction of offshore wind farms is a comprehensive process. Competencies and competencies are important here and there is a constant race for innovation among developers. Kacper Kostrzewa talks about floating wind farms, local content and investment plans of Ocean Winds in Poland.



Kacper Kostrzewa
Project director of the BC-Wind offshore wind farm carried out by Ocean Winds.

Nu Środowisko (TŚ): How can international experience help build offshore in the Polish Baltic Sea?

Kacper Kostrzewa (KK): The more experience the company has in a particular industry, the better – this is a universal principle that works well in any sector of the economy, but in the case of the offshore wind energy industry (OWE) it cannot be overstated. Let me remind you that Ocean Winds was created by two world leaders in the energy industry: EDPR and ENGIE, and is one of the best MEW developers in the world. Thanks to our sponsors, we have a very strong background and are active in markets in Europe, Asia and North America. We get knowledge and experience from each of them. With three projects with a capacity of 950 MW already in the operational phase, we are very close to the UK market, which has successfully built local content. That is why in the BC-Wind project we are supported by the experiences of colleagues from Great Britain on how to build a supply chain effectively. We encourage Polish companies to actively participate and work with us. It is worth remembering that proven collaboration in one market can pay off in new assignments for subsequent projects in other markets. We are building a global supplier base, which basically means that once a supplier has been verified in one market, it can participate in tenders in other markets.

TŚ: What are Ocean Winds’ ambitions for the second phase of the OWW development in the Baltic Sea?

KK: We have great ambitions and our current project, BC-Wind with a capacity of approximately 400 MW, certainly does not exhaust our ambitions in the Baltic Sea. In the second phase, our sponsors have applied for 9 out of 11 settlement permits in the Baltic Sea. We have all the necessary experience, team and competences to develop new projects in Poland.

TŚ: Are onshore wind farms also the subject of your interest?

KK: Onshore wind farms are successfully developed by our sponsors EDPR and ENGIE, while Ocean Winds focuses exclusively on offshore wind energy. Ocean Winds was founded in 2019 to operate in the field of offshore wind energy, the target offshore wind company of both sponsors. Dedication to offshore wind energy is one of our key strengths as it allows us to focus our knowledge, investment and innovation on one topic.

TŚ: How do you rate the wind energy job market today? Is it easy to find people to work in this sector?

KK: Recruitment in the offshore wind energy sector is more complicated as it is an entirely new market in Poland. However, there are related areas from which we can draw specialists and we try to do just that. We are also involved in training employees. In the BC-Wind project we have very well qualified employees, incl. Poles who have gained experience in other markets and are now returning to the country to support the development of offshore wind energy in the Polish Baltic Sea. The international environment and work culture of Ocean Winds is undoubtedly a great asset and also increases our competitive position in the labor market.

TŚ: What is the local content level for the BC-Wind project in Poland?

KK: For our BC-Wind project, we expect a local supply chain share of between 20 and 30 percent. However, depending on when and how the second phase of SHP develops, we want to gradually increase this ratio. Unfortunately, we also see a major threat in the form of demand continuity, ie Polish companies making efforts to adapt to the work in this industry must have guaranteed the stability of follow-up orders. Without a stable supply of new projects, it is difficult to expect suppliers to focus on offshore wind.

TŚ: Because specific competences are required, domestic companies can initially play the role of subcontractors instead of main contractors. Does Ocean Winds also collaborate with Polish scientists?

KK: Ocean Winds focuses on innovation. At the BC-Wind offshore wind farm, we have big plans for scientific and research collaboration with Polish companies with highly qualified technical personnel. We work together on possible solutions for our projects that we can adapt to other markets over time.

Suffice it to say that we are the first developer to participate in the development, construction and currently operation of the first floating wind farm in Europe – WindFloat Atlantic. This is our floating foundation project in Portugal and is currently in the operational phase.

TŚ: What are the main advantages of a floating wind farm?

KK: The main reason why companies decide to build floating wind farms is that they can be installed at greater depths. This allows the development of areas that were previously inaccessible precisely because of the depth exceeding the possibility of using monopile foundations, for example. These structures are placed on the wharf and then towed to their final destination, which is a great help. It also has less of an impact on the landscape because the wind farms are moving further and further behind the horizon.

TŚ: Has the pandemic, and now the armed conflict in Ukraine, significantly affected the functioning of Ocean Winds?

KK: The pandemic was a big challenge for us, especially as it was the period when we started operating as Ocean Winds in 2020. However, we managed to reach 380 suppliers worldwide and double our portfolio. In addition, we were building our largest project in the Moray Firth, Scotland: Moray East. By using innovative ways of working, including the implementation of new OSH procedures and the introduction of a more dynamic and flexible work pattern, the construction team was able to adequately manage the risks and ensure that costs and time were not significantly reduced. deteriorate. But in the end, the pandemic has not been able to thwart our plans. When it comes to the armed conflict in Ukraine, I think it has had a greater impact on the approach to energy transformation than on the state of our company. I hope it will be a strong incentive to focus government policy on renewable energy.

This article was written in collaboration with Ocean Winds.

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