Sylwia Ziemacka talked to Elro van den Burg, Project Initiator of Linked by Offshore Wind.
You are the initiator of an organization called Linked by Offshore Wind. Can you tell us more about the background of creating this organization. What type of companies are a part of Linked by Offshore Wind and what are you aiming for?
Linked by Offshore Wind is a public private partnership where the Dutch government and private sector connect. We have 14 Dutch companies from the offshore wind sector and they cover a broad range along the supply chain for constructing offshore wind. It ranges from multinationals to startups. We have companies that can do research of the sea on the seabed and offshore construction companies. We also have a lot of maritime companies in the group, and that’s what the Netherlands is known for. Some of our companies are in the starting phase with the research. Others are more in the operations and maintenance phase. They can help each other share information. And that really works well. Also, the Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw is actively involved. They are actively supporting to set up events and they are developing the relationship with the Polish government on this topic.
Together we are aiming to enter the Polish market, looking at the long-term potential that will ensure that both the Poland and the Dutch sides benefit. We think that starting this journey alone won’t really work.
You need to build up longer relationships both ways. The Netherlands is developing a lot of offshore wind. Poland also has its own specialties. We would like to help the Polish side develop its sector and maybe in a due course find common projects in the Netherlands.
At what stage of development is Poland with the off-shore investments?
According to the Polish Wind Energy Association, Poland’s offshore wind potential is 33 GW. If the Baltic’s total potential is exploited, offshore wind power could meet as much as 57 proc. of Poland’s total electricity demand.
There is no offshore turbine working yet. The first one should be ready by 2026 – that’s what we hear at the conferences right now. RWE says they will complete their first project in 2026. If you look at the total amount of power by 2030 it was said that 5.9 gigawatts should be ready and even recently the Polish government increased that amount to about 12 gigawatts.
If you look at the world wide market you can see that everybody is increasing its ambitions.
We see huge investments in the Netherlands, France, Japan, also elsewhere in Asia and there’s only so much capacity to build. I would say that the capacity is becoming scarce at the moment.
We, the Dutch, are very experienced in the maritime area. More and more often we hear from our companies that they change their work approach under these market circumstances. Instead of committing to a project they simply offer a timeslot for their services. If you don’t make the decision on time, they will bring their equipment to a different market, somewhere else and you will need to wait maybe a whole year for the next one.
How do you look at Poland versus the other countries?
Actually Linked by Offshore Wind is active only in Poland. We are connecting the Dutch with the Polish side and vice versa. But of course, we have an overview of what’s elsewhere.
Poland has a big potential because of its size. It has the potential to attract to this sector not only investors but also the supply chain. Our companies see that it’s interesting work for them. And it’s not only about Poland but also the Baltic states.
But there are also obstacles. There’s a big discussion going on at the moment concerning local content. I totally understand this and it’s a fair discussion. Poland wants, of course, not only to build the industry, but also to get its local knowledge and the local workforce involved in the projects.
What is not exactly clear for foreign suppliers, is which percentage should be local content. In my opinion, there is a little bit too much focus on local content. If you do that too much, you might miss the moment. My advise to the Polish industry is to work more with international companies and let them help build the first projects, gain knowledge and then start building your own local content instead of focusing too much on having your Polish companies do all the works as from the start because then you might not finish on time.
Your perspective is very interesting because you’ve been in the Polish business, in the Polish environment for many years. Do you see the offshore sector as being easily accessible for international companies?
Yes, it’s easily accessible. But what is a little problem is that every country that starts off-shore wind is trying to find out the best way to build up the industry. I see that from the Netherlands. It was also struggling at the beginning. I see that Poland is sometimes struggling with that too, but at the same time, I know that as the Netherlands we can help. We already have so much knowledge about this.
Is Linked by Offshore Wind, aiming for B2B cooperation or business to governance or maybe academics?
Actually, all three of them but the main one is B2B cooperation, but also cooperation from government to government.
What’s on your agenda for 2023?
Being busy. We are going to many conferences to make connections and represent the total offshore wind sector from the Netherlands. We are also studying the market for the gaps and opportunities here in Poland of which the Dutch sector is not yet aware and as mentioned earlier, we do that with the Netherlands Embassy that is for instance active with developing relations with the government and knowledge institutes.