Finnish Country Workshop and two Thematic Working Group Seminars succesfully concluded in Espoo
The two-day program of the Baltic Offshore Grid Forum was organised by Baltic InteGrid partner Aalto University and project's lead partner IKEM.
Finish Country Workshop
The program in Espoo started with a Country Workshop for National Stakeholders in Finland. During the country workshop the participants discussed the potential, opportunities and challenges for the further development of offshore wind energy in Finland, which is still in its infancy. The first offshore project with 10 turbines and a total capacity of 40 MW was commissioned in September 2017. The aim of the workshop was to outline the topical issues of offshore wind power in Finland keeping in mind the meshed grid approach. Stakeholders and others interested in wind power related issues were invited to attend the workshop. Participants included, for example, industry experts, representatives of the transmission system operator and public administration.
The workshop outlined the topical legal and political questions on offshore wind energy in Finland. These included the recent change in the real estate taxation of wind power plants, national maritime spatial plans and a proposed new technology-neutral subsidy system for renewable energy sources. The construction of the first offshore wind farm in Finland, Tahkoluoto, was also covered. In addition, the development of electricity transmission networks of the Baltic Sea area was explored.
As a result, several barriers for offshore wind power development were identified in the workshop. These barriers include such issues as political will, real estate tax and lack of a special subsidy system for offshore wind power. Political will is needed to boost the development of offshore wind power and wind power projects in general.
For more details of the Finish country workshop please see the minutes of the workshop.
Thematic Working Group Seminar “The cost-benefit analysis of a meshed grid in the Baltic Sea region”
In the afternoon of the first day the seminar of the Thematic Working Group (TWG) on “Cost-Benefit Analysis” was held. The session was opened by Anika Nicolaas Ponder (IKEM) who introduced the audience to the Baltic InteGrid project and outlined the cost-benefit analysis as a systematic approach to compare different options of a meshed grid in the Baltic Sea region. Afterwards thematically focused presentations of the shed light on the benefits (Clemens Gerbaulet,IKEM) and costs (Anna-Kathrin Wallasch, Deutsche WindGuard) of different envisioned scenarios, which cover the dimension of the offshore wind energy built out and the integration level of the integration of the grid. Further input was provided by Carmen Wouters (DNV GL), who presented the multi-dimensional approach that has been developed for the cost-benefit analysis of the PROMOTioN project implemented in the North Sea, and by Jonas Kraeusel (50Hertz) who provided the perspective of a TSO on the challenges and drivers towards further offshore grid integration. Finally, Elizabeth Côté (IKEM) highlighted that policy frameworks could have a significant impact on the cost of capital, since renewable energy sources are often associated with relatively high risks and low return, which yields to higher financing costs.
Sparked by these presentations the participants discussed intensively the cost-benefit ratio of a meshed offshore grid in the Baltic Sea.
Thematic Working Group Seminar “A meshed offshore wind grid in the Baltic Sea: Opportunities and obstacles in the policy, legal and regulatory framework”
On the following day the participants met for the "Policy & Regulation" seminar to discuss the legal, regulatory and political barriers with regard to the development of a meshed offshore grid in the Baltic Sea region. Baltic InteGrid presented the interim results of the policy and regulation research to the large audience of experts.
Bénédicte Martin (IKEM) outlined several obstacles from the legal and regulatory field that complicate the development of offshore wind in an integrated grid infrastructure in general and a meshed grid in particular. Kanerva Sunila (University of Aalto) addressed the important topic of a transnational TSO as a possible entity who could operate a regional meshed grid.
Catharina Sikow-Magny, Head of Networks and Regional Initiatives at the Directorate General Energy of the European Commission brought the EU's perspective to the participants attention and emphasized the strategic importance of offshore wind energy in the energy mix, which is addressed in the Baltic Energy Market Integration Plan (BEMIP). Jan Kostevc (ACER) added to the discussions through his presentation where the necessary institutionalisation of integrated coordination activities of TSOs due to integration of electricity grids - an answer to this are Regional Operation Centers.
The perspective of policy makers and regulators was complemented by further speakers, such as Elina Hautakangas of ENTSO-E, who represents dozens of TSOs from 36 countries and emphasized that meshed grids are a relatively relatively new concept which is likely to result in higher risks, and thus higher costs. Initiatives such as Projects of Common Interest can help with reducing investment burdens through financing in the form of grants for studies and financial instruments. Tuuliki Kasonen (Estonian Wind Power Association) provided a practical perspective of legal obstacles for developers, exemplified through the Hiiuma offshore wind farm project which has been challenged and contested by many different interest groups, which has been delaying the project's initiation by many years - her conclusion: OWF authorisation presents too many parallel processes and a harmonisation of the procedures is highly necessary. Diletta Zeni (WindEurope) catered the audience with a bird's eye perspective on OWE development in Europe and in the BSR in particular and presented "a policy and regulatory wishlist" to tap into the full potential of offshore wind.
Fueled by the presentations of the speakers which shared their perspective on the complexities and opportunities of a meshed grid the exchange with the audience from around the Baltic Sea region intensified and ended with an interactive discussion panel.