Vestas to Unveil 6-Megawatt Offshore Turbine in March, CEO Says

Vestas Wind Systems A/S will unveil a new offshore wind turbine, its biggest yet, at the end of next month, the company’s chief executive said.

“The 6-megawatt turbine will be marketed and presented here in London on the 30th of March,” Ditlev Engel, CEO of the Randers, Denmark-based company, said today in a London interview. He declined to give more details.

The turbine has a greater electricity-generating capacity than any machine currently commercially producing sea-based wind power. Companies including REpower Systems AG and Areva Wind GmbH have commercialized 5-megawatt offshore turbines and German manufacturer Enercon GmbH has a land-based 7.5-megawatt generator, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

New European installations of offshore wind power may surge 70 percent this year, topping 2010’s record 51 percent gain, the Brussels-based lobby group European Wind Energy Association said last month. Vestas is vying with companies including Germany’s Siemens AG, Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA of Spain and General Electric Co. for sales in the growing market.

“Vestas is the last of the major turbine makers to set out their concrete sale and marketing plans for a 5- or 6-megawatt offshore wind turbine,” Glen Walker, an analyst at New Energy Finance, said in an e-mail. “It’s playing catch-up with some of its competitors.”

Vestas, the largest wind-turbine maker, has the biggest share of installed offshore capacity in Europe, according to NEF. Of the 3,045 megawatts installed by the end of 2010, 1,391 are from Vestas machines while Siemens has 1,357, it said.

Wind Power

The U.K., with more than 40 percent of the total installed capacity, is “leading the world” in offshore wind power, EWEA said. In January 2010, the U.K. government awarded licenses for

32.2 gigawatts of offshore wind projects to companies including Centrica Plc, RWE AG and Statoil ASA.

E.ON AG, Germany’s largest utility, won permission to build a 230-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Humberside in the U.K., the company said today.

Engel said Vestas hasn’t decided yet whether to build an offshore wind turbine factory in the U.K. after Siemens and Gamesa said in January they’d open plants. GE’s head of U.K. energy operations, Magued Eldaief, said in a Feb. 1 interview that GE plans to announce the site of a new 110 million-euro ($151 million) wind turbine factory in Britain “very soon.”

“Realistically you’re not going to see any installation taking place before 2014, 2015” Engel said, referring to turbines for the licenses granted last year under the U.K.’s third round of offshore permitting. “It would take us maybe a year to build a plant. We’ll see how these things evolve.”

Isle of Wight

Engel said Vestas will complete 50 million pounds ($81 million) of investments in a testing facility for turbine blades on the Isle of Wight in southern England “over the summer.” That will fulfil a pledge the company made in 2009 when it closed a factory on the island, he said.

“At the time when we announced the closure on the Isle of Wight, a lot of people said it is wrong, the projects are coming,” Engel said. “Well, if we had maintained that plant, it would have had nothing to do from 2009 until 2015. From a financial point of view, it was the right decision.”

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