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United States

Vestas challenges tough US market with turbine upgrades

United States: US wind industry faces an especially hard fight in cut-throat domestic market, said Vestas Americas president Chris Brown.

Of the price competition for selling electricity in the US, Vestas’ Chris Brown said bluntly: "We are in a ‘battle of death’ with shale gas, solar…".

America is a "totally different game" compared with Europe, he noted. In the US, a wind project owner’s power sale may depend upon the spot-market price of electricity every 12 minutes, he noted.

That is why Vestas is seeking to market its PowerPlus turbine upgrades especially in North America, said Brown, president of Vestas Americas and a group senior vice president at Vestas Wind Systems

"You’ve got to think, how fast and in what market you can chase down the Levelised Cost of Energy," Brown told Windpower Monthly today in an interview at Windpower 2014 in Las Vegas.

Electricity prices in the US are about 60% of those in Europe, and the US is the only country in the world with a glut of cheap shale gas.

The final version of the PowerPlus suite was unveiled on 1 May. The upgrade increases the power output of wind farms.

Vestas’ marketing of PowerPlus fits with the its strategy for the all-important US market, given the uncertainty of whether the expired production tax credit (PTC) will be reinstated.

It’s imperative that American projects owners squeeze as much power as possible out of their projects, he said.

In a hint of the length of the current mini-boom in the US wind market, Brown said that Vestas has contracted sales in the US for its new 2MW turbines - the V110-2.0MW and a new version of the V100-2MW- as far ahead as the fourth quarter of 2015.

After 2015, developers may face the risk of not meeting the criteria for eligibility for the expired PTC.

The V110 is targeted at the low-wind American market, and Vestas has already received orders for at least 800MWs of the model.

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