November 26, 2019 / 5:13 PM / 16 days ago

Poland's PGE, Denmark's Orsted aim to sign offshore wind deal by year-end

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Polish energy group PGE is close to signing a deal to sell 50% stakes in two planned offshore wind projects in the Baltic Sea to Denmark’s Orsted, the companies said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of PGE Group is seen on PGE Gornictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna S.A. (Mining and Conventional Energy) building at the Belchatow Coal Mine, the biggest opencast mine of brown coal in Poland, near Belchatow, December 2 , 2015. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

PGE and Orsted, the world’s biggest developer of offshore wind, said last month they had started discussions over the sale.

“We are hoping to finalize the negotiations - meaning signing the basic terms - by the end of this year,” the chief executive of state-run PGE’s offshore wind subsidiary Monika Morawiecka told Reuters on Tuesday.

The projects, which have a total capacity of up to 2.5 gigawatts (GW), are key to developing the offshore wind sector in otherwise coal-reliant Poland.

International firms including Orsted, oil and gas company Equinor and Germany’s RWE are looking to Poland as the next big growth market for harnessing wind at sea.

“Poland is going to be one of the largest offshore wind markets,” Orsted’s Chief Executive of offshore wind Martin Neubert told Reuters.

For coal-reliant Poland, offshore wind, together with other renewables, is seen as an opportunity to put the energy industry on a greener path.

“We do struggle with our conventional (coal) assets and we see that in the future this part of PGE’s business is going to suffer, so we need to balance it with, for example, offshore wind,” said Morawiecka.

She added that she was confident with regards to securing financing for the two projects and that the 1 GW Baltica 3 project would be ready to start construction by 2023 or 2024.

The Polish government has set a target of generating at least 10 GW of offshore wind power by 2040 compared to zero today, and is finalizing the legal framework to support this.

“Poland has a government which a lot of people thought until recently was not very interested in renewables,” the CEO of industry group WindEurope Giles Dickson told Reuters.

Thousands of Polish workers are already employed in producing goods for the offshore wind industry supply chain, but so far these have only been exported.

“I think there is a profound interest in creating a strong home market,” said Orsted’s Neubert.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by David Evans and Jan Harvey

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