NATO delegates at a conference in the port city of Szczecin emphasised the strategic importance of the development of distributed renewable energy at sea as a critical guarantor of Poland’s energy security, the Polish Wind Association (PWEA) said.
While PWEA couldn’t immediately provide exact direct quotes from the NATO delegates, it confirmed that General R. Drozd of NATO’s Multinational Northeast Corps. was a delegate at the conference held as part of the Security Forum Szczecin organised by Polish think-tank Nobilis Media.
Michał Jach, chairman of the national defence committee in the Polish parliament, the Sejm, on the Maritime Poland news portal is quoted as saying that offshore wind - along with liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline to transport natural gas from Norway to Poland – is part of the country’s energy security.
“Military and economic security cannot exist without each other,” confirmed Zbigniew Gryglas, Poland’s deputy minister of state assets and at the same time Warsaw’s plenipotentiary for offshore wind energy development. “The Baltic is one of the three key areas in the world with the best conditions for the development of wind energy.”
“We are determined to seize the chance. We will do this transformation for Poland, although we are aware that the starting point is difficult. Mainly because of our energy dependence on hard and brown coal (lignite). But our government is effectively striving in Brussels for this specificity to be taken into account by the (European) Union.”
Poland plans to use offshore wind as one of the energy sources to reduce the share of coal and lignite in its electricity mix to 60% in 2030, down from just under 80% currently. At the same time, the Eastern European country is anxious not to replace coal and lignite with natural gas from Russia, mirroring similar fears of energy dependency from Russia in other countries in the region.
Poland’s northern neighbour, Lithuania, in 2018 approved an “energy independence” plan in order to end more than 60 years of reliance on Russian gas and electricity, and the political leverage that comes with it. The plan includes building up 700MW off offshore wind by 2030.
“Our main aspirations are to end Lithuania's energy dependence on Russia once and for all, and no longer be either an energy island or peninsula,” Lithuanian energy minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas told Recharge last year.
Gryglas at the Szczecin conference also said photovoltaics will complement Poland’s path towards energy independence, and reiterated the government’s ambition for nuclear energy.
“Perhaps we will hear some specifics in this matter during the visit of President Andrzej Duda to the White House,” he added.
The Polish President had visited US President Donald Trump last week just days ahead of presidential elections in Poland, which took place yesterday. Incumbent President Duda Sunday won 43.7% of the vote with 99.78% of ballots counted, but was forced into a run-off with the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, who came in second place on 30.3%, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Gryglas last week confirmed the government’s plan to reach some 5GW of Baltic Sea offshore wind by 2030, and a cumulated 10GW by 2040.
Poland's opposition endorses the country's offshore wind ambitions.