Only local companies were successful in the latest auction for several gigawatts of Polish seabed lease areas for offshore wind developments, which could eventually push the Eastern European country’s capacity at sea beyond 16GW.

A subsidiary of domestic refiner PKN Orlen won five areas – 14.E.1 to 4, and 46.E.1 – the Polish government said. State-controlled utility PGE won a sixth site, 45.E.1, in a market that is also now a regular target for some of the biggest global players in offshore wind.

PGE during the first quarter of this year had already been successful with the awards for the 43.E.1 and 44.E.1 areas, as well as the 60.E.3 and 4 sites that are located far offshore.

PGE management board president Wojciech Dąbrowski said his company was leading offshore wind in Poland, with 7.3GW now under development.

"Poland needs new own generation capacity so that in the coming years it will be possible to reduce the increase in electricity costs and, consequently, to reduce electricity bills for consumers," he said.

"That is why we invest in renewable energy sources, including wind farms in the Baltic Sea. Energy from offshore wind farms will be cheaper, because its production does not involve incurring fees for CO2 emissions.

"In this respect, decisions regarding location permits for new offshore wind farms are extremely important to us, as they will allow us to achieve the strategic goals of the PGE Group and strengthen Poland's energy security."

An auction for another site, 53.E.1, in January had flopped as according to the country’s infrastructure ministry "none of the applicants obtained the minimum qualification".

All areas awarded this year have the potential for 7.96GW of wind at sea (8.83GW including the not allocated 53.E.1 site), according to the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA).

A consortium of local utility Polenergia with Norwegian oil giant Equinor and again PGE earlier had already secured two seabed lease sites with a combined potential for 2.46GW.

That brings the potential volume for a second wave of Polish offshore wind developments to 10.4GW (11.3GW with 53.E.1).

They come on top of a first 5.9GW wave of already pre-developed projects for which the Polish government had awarded contract for difference (CfD) support and expects wind farms to be built by 2026/27.

Most of the sites in the first wave of projects are being developed by consortia of local players Polenergia, PGE or PKN Orlen – with international heavyweights Equinor or Orsted. Two small areas are also slated to be built by foreign companies alone, RWE and Ocean Winds.

How much offshore wind by 2040?

Poland’s undersecretary of state for climate and environment, Anna Łukaszewska-Trzeciakowska, at the WindEurope 2023 conference in Copenhagen in April had said the government plans to hold four competitive support auctions in 2025, 2027, 2029, and 2031 with a combined about 12GW in capacity for the second wave of offshore wind expansion.

The Polish wind industry represented by the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) welcomed the higher-than-previously envisaged offshore wind ambition but said it could imagine even more.

"As an industry, we are very glad that the ministry of climate has announced a new scenario for the energy policy until 2040, giving full capacity of 18GW by 2040," PWEA president Janusz Gajowiecki told Recharge in Copenhagen.

"This is a real change in comparison to the old approach of the government to the energy mix. Renewables will amount to almost 70% [of the power mix] in 2030."

"That is very important for all of Europe as the country so far had relied on coal and gas. Coal in the next 15 years will disappear to very low numbers, like 0.7GW in 2040 [for lignite] and of around 9.5GW [for] black coal."

But PWEA in a report published last year pointed out that even more would possible, and estimated an offshore wind potential in Poland of 33GW by 2040.