Hydrogen production in the Polish Baltic Sea
On Jan. 15, 2021, the second chamber of the Polish Senate passed a bill designed to facilitate the development of offshore wind power in the Polish area of the Baltic Sea. Once the bill is signed by the president of Poland it will be able to enter the statute book. In the proposed legislation the Polish government intends to offer exceptionally generous support to the offshore energy sector, with grants of up to EUR 25 billion.
Several projects with a total capacity of between 6 and 8 gigawatts have already been completed or are under construction. Of these, the largest single venture, with a capacity of nearly 1.6 GW, comes under the ownership of Polenergia and Equinor. Taken together, these two companies alone will push forward the development of wind farm projects in the Polish Baltic Sea with a total capacity just shy of 3 GW. Also involved are large Polish energy groups such as Polska Grupa Energetyczna, or PGE, and Orlen. As it currently stands, PGE’s offshore projects have the highest capacity in the region, exceeding 3.5 GW in total. Alongside these schemes, PGE is also piloting initial power-to-gas projects.
For Orlen, too, investment in offshore wind with a view to establishing itself as a hydrogen producer is of particular significance and represents an essential part of its corporate strategy. Both companies will therefore be at pains to participate extensively in the award rounds that will get underway as part of measures to support offshore energy generation in the Baltic Sea. Potentially up to 12 GW of capacity could be installed in this geographical area.
Lithuania plans 700 megawatts
In 2020, offshore wind energy was also a major topic for discussion in the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. While the amount of electricity expected to be produced by these countries is no match for Poland’s power generation, the growth in capacity relative to the energy consumption of these small nations is considerable. Lithuania’s plans to develop 700 MW of offshore capacity equates to around 2.4 to 3 terawatt-hours, in other words a quarter of the nation’s electricity consumption. Leading the way in offshore development is the Lithuanian energy company Ignitis Group. Ignitis also plays an active role in the Polish energy market, as is the case for most large energy companies from the Baltic states since their own markets often leave little room for growth.
Ignitis Group is already investing in the hydrogen development of Israeli startup H2Pro. H2Pro is a company focused on increasing the efficiency of green hydrogen production and promises 30 percent more hydrogen per kilowatt-hour than is possible through conventional electrolysis. Use of its technology could see production costs falling on a continual basis resulting in parity with fossil fuel production in around five years.
“Hydrogen is often dubbed the fuel of the future. The technology developed by H2Pro to produce green hydrogen could lower air pollution and reduce the dependency on fossil fuels across the world,” claimed Darius Maikstenas, chairman of the Lithuanian company.
Ignitis has found an excellent partner for offshore wind projects in the form of the joint venture Ocean Winds. However, the Lithuanian company will retain the 51 percent majority stake in the joint undertaking. Ocean Winds is owned by Portuguese company EDPR and French energy concern Engie. EDPR has also realized its own small offshore project in an area of the Baltic Sea off the Polish coast.
Helping to steer the Ocean Winds project is Polish manager and offshore expert Grzegorz Górski. In the Polish media Górski has been quoted as saying he is continuously monitoring developments in the region and intends to explore any opportunities that arise in the offshore arena in order to grow the Ocean Winds venture.
… Read more in the latest H2-International e-Journal, May 2021
Author: Aleksandra Fedorska