Will renewable energy companies shake up the industrial market?

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  • Publicación 16 abril 2024
  • Modificado 2024-04-16 09:55:24

Renewable energy companies announcing new large-scale projects in the north of Poland will need large spaces for storing components of solar and wind farms. Such tenants report sector-specific requirements, which may incentivise developers to build differently, says Michał Rafałowicz, Regional Director, Newmark Polska.

According to key elements of Poland’s Energy Policy 2040, offshore wind power is expected to account for 13 per cent of the country’s electricity generation in less than six years and 19 per cent in 16 years. “For this to happen, around PLN 130 billion worth of investments in offshore wind energy will be needed. When they come to fruition, Poland will become a European leader in wind power in a few years’ time as it has already done in photovoltaics,” says Piotr Mrowiec, Associate Partner, Renewable Energy Practice, international consultancy Rödl & Partner.

“Although large-scale investments in renewable energy in Pomerania had been a talking point for years, they did not gather pace until last year. Large cities in the north of Poland have long been ready for such projects. We are also seeing a growing demand from renewable energy companies for modern industrial and warehouse space in Tricity, Szczecin and Świnoujście,” comments Michał Rafałowicz.

Nature-based opportunities

Poland has excellent natural conditions to support the large-scale growth of wind power. Stable and predictable winds in the Baltic Sea keep offshore wind turbines’ capacity rate at a high of nearly 50 per cent compared to 30-40 per cent for onshore wind power plants and – given Poland’s latitude – 18-22 per cent for solar farms. However, solar and wind power plants perfectly complement each other, notes Piotr Mrowiec, the expert from Rödl & Partner. “There are inherent differences in electricity generation from wind and solar power. While there is typically little or no wind on fine sunny days, it may be windy at night or on cloudy days. That’s why the market welcomed the introduction of cable-pooling provisions last October that provide for sharing electricity interconnections, thereby paving the way for setting up large solar farms in Pomerania and Western Pomerania,” he explains.

Large investments will stir up the market

Planned projects are very likely to succeed as their investors include experienced consortiums of Polish energy companies and western corporations which have already completed similar projects. Some notable partnerships are PGE Baltica / Ørsted, PKN Orlen / Northland Power, and Polenergia / Equinor.

“One of the most awaited projects is Baltic Power - an offshore wind farm located about 23 km into the sea, to the north of Choczewo and Łeba, and Poland’s first installation terminal for offshore wind farms in Świnoujście developed through a joint venture between Orlen and Northland Power. The terminal is expected to commence operations in 2025. Construction works on a similar terminal in Gdansk are scheduled to begin in mid-2024 and to complete in 2026,” says Michał Rafałowicz, Regional Director, Newmark Polska.

Another notable project is the planned construction of a Vestas factory in Szczecin, says Piotr Mrowiec. “The facility will assemble turbine nacelles and hubs. Also in Szczecin, Vestas will soon begin construction of another offshore plant that will manufacture blades for V236-15MW wind turbines. If everything goes as planned, the second factory will launch operations in 2026 and will provide 1,000 jobs,” explains Piotr Mrowiec, Rödl & Partner. “The liberalisation of the distance criterion in the so-called windmill law and its further planned liberalisation will see construction works begin on wind farms in Poland’s two coastal provinces. These will include a 30 MW wind farm with 15 turbines to be built by Tauron in Warblewo.”

Harbours and intermodal connections - a competitive advantage built over years
Road and rail networks and harbours that continue to grow are the biggest magnet of Poland’s Baltic provinces - they also greatly facilitate business operations for renewable energy companies. The largest harbour - the Port of Gdansk - is currently the fifth best performer in the EU.

Intermodal connections which are becoming a key mode of cargo transportation across Poland have been growing in importance for many years. “This trend has led to increased investments in road and rail infrastructure. Last year saw the completion of the expansion of the Industrial Quay in the Port of Gdansk - road and rail improvements cost more than PLN 82 million. Large-scale projects improving accessibility for cargo trains to harbour quays were also completed in Gdynia (costing PLN 1.9 billion) and in Szczecin and Świnoujście (PLN 1.5 billion). As a result, longer cargo trains, up to 750-metre long, and heavier, with a load of 22.5 tonnes per axle, can now reach the quays,” says Michał Rafałowicz. This will ensure delivery and handling of larger amounts of goods by rail, which is critical on a competitive market. Railway transport, which is a more sustainable option, is also preferred by the EU, so some EU funds for roads are being reassigned to rail upgrades.

Renewable energy professionals are already here
The growth of the renewable energy sector at the Polish seaside is also supported by the strength of the local labour market. Kamila Staroszczyk, Senior Consultant, Randstad Polska, assures that employers will find the right skills there, but a lot depends on their specific requirements. “The current labour market offers a large pool of candidates with background in shipbuilding and maritime industries and suppliers of various components and services to the offshore and energy sectors. The rapidly growing demand for employees with similar technical skills such as electrical engineers, automation engineers and structural engineers with renewable energy experience is certainly a major challenge. With competition for such skills remaining strong, candidates who are already involved in rewarding projects are less willing to change jobs or tend to report higher financial expectations. On the other hand, the Pomeranian market is so broad that employers who show some flexibility will be able to fill vacancies with proactive recruits ready for upskilling,” says the expert from Randstad Polska.

There is no doubt that employers have found an ally in universities which are adding new study programmes to their academic offer in response to the demand they are seeing. “This has led to the creation of such programmes as Energy (specialisation: Renewable Energy) at the Gdansk University of Technology, Offshore Wind Energy, Hydrogen Technology and Renewable Energy Sources at Gdynia Maritime University, and Environmental Engineering (specialisation: Renewable Energy Sources) at the University of Gdansk. In addition, the Gdansk University of Technology offers Offshore Wind Energy postgraduate studies,” says Paulina Dziecielska, Senior Consultant, Randstad Polska. 


The logistics market is red hot

Tricity, which comprises Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot, is considered as one of the largest and fastest-growing logistics markets in Poland. At the end of last year, its total stock of modern warehouse space stood at more than 1.44 million sqm compared to more than 1.24 million sqm in Western Pomerania. “Last year saw significant new completions throughout the country, with the highest concentration of new deliveries recorded in southern and central Poland. New supply in northern Poland reached just over 185,000 sqm, of which 72,800 sqm was delivered in Pomerania and 93,300 sqm in Western Pomerania. Both regions, however, saw significant increases in both leasing volumes and tenant enquiries. This, particularly in Tricity, pushed the regional vacancy rate down to a new low of 1.7 per cent,” says Kaja Karbowska-Nowak, Associate, Industrial and Warehouse Department, Newmark Polska.

Tricity is likely to maintain its strong position in 2024, which is expected to see a total of more than 288,000 sqm delivered. “Modern production and warehouse space in Gdansk and Gdynia, especially in the vicinity of the harbours, is fundamental to the growth of the renewable energy sector. Szczecin is also receiving increasing levels of interest from the sector, especially now, after Vestas and Windar confirmed the construction of two factories of wind farm turbines and components earlier this year,” explains the expert from Newmark Polska.

The most active developers in northern Poland include Panattoni (in partnership with Accolade), 7R and CTP, with other major warehouse market players in the region comprising Fortress and Exeter. Both Pomerania and Western Pomerania are attracting a growing level of interest from developers, including Lemontree, which will build its first warehouse park in this part of Poland. In addition, established developers and new market entrants alike are stepping up their search for land in northern Poland.

Large-scale projects and non-standard requirements
Renewable energy companies announcing new projects will require large volumes of production and warehouse space. “Harbour authorities focus on infrastructure construction and leave building logistics and warehouse facilities to private developers who are, however, likely to face special requirements reported by renewable energy companies. Traditional buildings span thousands of modern roofed production or warehouse space. Meanwhile, renewable energy companies, including producers of wind turbines, need small roofed buildings and large, paved areas built to above standard technical specifications and suitable for storage and assembly of big and very heavy components,” explains Michał Rafałowicz, Regional Director, Newmark Polska. “At the same time, tenants do not want to pay the same rent for outdoor space as for indoor space. The question is: Will developers make a profit from leasing such space in projects developed, by the way, on costly land in prime locations? On the other hand, they are likely to be huge projects as many renewable energy companies are reporting requirements for more than 100,000 sqm of space in a single location. That’s why we are watching the market with great interest while remaining confident that both parties will be able to work out some sort of a compromise.”


In the photo from left: Piotr Mrowiec, Associate Partner, Rödl & Partner; Michał Rafałowicz, Regional Director, Newmark Polska; Kaja Karbowska-Nowak, Associate, Newmark Polska; Kamila Staroszczyk, Senior Consultant, Randstad Polska; Paulina Dziecielska, Senior Consultant; Randstad Polska.