Oil Major Joins Copper Mining Firm to Bid on Offshore Wind Leases

Operations at one of KGHM's copper smelters in Poland (KGHM)

Published Apr 12, 2022 11:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

French oil major TotalEnergies has joined forces with Polish mining giant KGHM to bid on promising offshore wind acreage in a budding new market - the Baltic coast of Poland. 

The government of Poland has launched a new auction round for 11 areas in the Polish Baltic Sea, and they have an estimated potential capacity of over 10 GW. The government's goal is to build out at least 6 GW of that capacity by the end of the decade. 

TotalEnergies has extensive experience in offshore oil and gas, and it has a growing portfolio of offshore wind projects under development worldwide. Its first operational windfarm is scheduled to come online off the UK later this year, and it has about six gigawatts of capacity in the pipeline.

KGHM is a newcomer to power generation and renewable power: its core business is in the mining and processing of copper ore, and it is in possession of one of the largest copper deposits in the world. It has related sidelines in the production of lead, molybdenum, rhenium and silver, which are recovered during its copper refining process. Its main role in the offshore wind project is to contribute its knowledge of the Polish industrial sector, as it is one of the largest Polish state-owned enterprises. 

"In KGHM’s strategy we declared the achievement of climate neutrality by 2050. We are past the stage of planning and are involved in concrete actions. We are engaged in the process of acquiring several onshore and offshore projects," said Marcin Chludzi?ski, president of the board at KGHM, in a joint statement.

The auction round calls for a high level of local content during construction and operation, and the bidders are emphasizing their commitment to Polish industrial development. Top offshore wind developer SSE Renewables has also submitted an application for the lease round, in partnership with Spanish infrastructure conglomerate Acciona. Acciona's Polish division, Mostostal Warszawa, has plans for a turbine foundation based on a concrete gravity-based structure (GBS) design which could be built 100-percent locally in Poland - and at an affordable price, according to Mostostal VP Jorge Calabuig Ferre.

Other entrants in this auction round include German utility RWE and the Polish energy companies PKN Orlen and PGE. Oil major Equinor and local partner Polenergia are already active in the Polish market with the construction of the Baltyk I, II and III wind farms, the product of a previous lease round.