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Poland embraces wind power – a better deal than nuclear

PGE picks Baltic wind over nuclear as Poland embraces green power, Agnieszka BarteczkoPawel Goraj WARSAW/GDYNIA (Reuters) – State-controlled PGE (PGE.WA) has abandoned its leading role in plans to build Poland’s first nuclear power station as it focuses on new wind farms in the Baltic Sea, two sources said.

PGE, the largest Polish power group, announced a nearly $10 billion offshore wind project in March but has also been responsible for the nuclear project…….

One source said PGE could not fund both projects and cheap technology had swung the decision in favor of wind. PGE could still play a smaller role in the nuclear project which has been delayed and still needs government approval.

“PGE cannot afford both – offshore wind and nuclear. The decision was taken to go for offshore,” the source said.

A government source also said that PGE would focus on offshore.

…….. Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party promised before elections in 2015 to defend the coal industry and put in place laws to prevent new investment in both onshore and offshore windfarms.

But in March it changed tack and proposed a law to make it easier to build wind turbines. That is currently being debated in parliament.

If the law is passed, as expected, several other wind farm projects could also proceed.

Polenergia (PEPP.WA), owned by the Kulczyk family, has said it would like to build a wind farm in the Baltic by 2022. PKN Orlen is also considering building one.

PGE said in March that it wants to build offshore windfarms with a capacity of 2.5 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

………. Analysts and investors say that offshore wind farms are the easiest and fastest way for Poland to fill the expected capacity gap from coal and reduce CO2 emissions in line with EU’s 2030 targets as Poland seeks improved ties with Brussels.

They provide more electricity than onshore windfarms, which Poland already has, and can be built more quickly than a nuclear power plant.

The decision to open up the offshore power industry could also draw in investors. Statoil said in April it would join Polenergia’s offshore project which has drawn interest from other international wind companies.

“We received phone calls from all over Europe after Statoil’s decision was announced. If such a player has entered, we need to be in too, many investors say,” said Maciej Stryjecki, the president of the board at SMDI Advisory Group.

………. The Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) estimates that offshore windfarms with a total capacity of 6 GW would help create around 77,000 new jobs and add around 60 billion zlotys to economic growth.

Local authorities in the windy Baltic resort and port of Leba, which is close to the future offshore sites, are hoping the industry could provide year-round employment as a balance to seasonal jobs.

“If investors choose Leba, a base and functional and technical facilities for wind farms could be created here,” the mayor of Leba, Andrzej Strzechminski, said.

PWEA has identified around 70 potential Polish suppliers to the offshore industry including shipyards Crist SA and GSG Towers. Their workers’ boat-building skills can be transferred to make windmill components.

GSG Towers, a unit of Gdansk Shipyard Group, is looking forward to Poland’s first offshore windmills and contracts with new clients.

The Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) estimates that offshore windfarms with a total capacity of 6 GW would help create around 77,000 new jobs and add around 60 billion zlotys to economic growth.

Local authorities in the windy Baltic resort and port of Leba, which is close to the future offshore sites, are hoping the industry could provide year-round employment as a balance to seasonal jobs.

“If investors choose Leba, a base and functional and technical facilities for wind farms could be created here,” the mayor of Leba, Andrzej Strzechminski, said.

PWEA has identified around 70 potential Polish suppliers to the offshore industry including shipyards Crist SA and GSG Towers. Their workers’ boat-building skills can be transferred to make windmill components.

GSG Towers, a unit of Gdansk Shipyard Group, is looking forward to Poland’s first offshore windmills and contracts with new clients.

“We are not talking anymore about whether Poland needs to develop offshore wind projects…there are no more question marks and we only talk about when and how to do it right,” said Liudmyla Buimister who was the CEO of GSG Towers, a unit of Gdansk Shipyard Group, until April 16.

It has approached PGE and Polenergia about building a device to send electricity generated at sea to the onshore grid.

Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in London; Editing by Anna Willard https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-energy/exclusive-pge-picks-baltic-wind-over-nuclear-as-poland-embraces-green-power-idUSKBN1IB0LE

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May 11, 2018 - Posted by | EUROPE, renewable

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