Production shifts to China and America -- Confident Vestas

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With the dismissal of 1900 workers in Europe and a tripling of its 1300 employees in the United States, Vestas is now seriously moving its production to where the markets are. That is not in northern Europe, according to the company's first quarterly results report of the year, and certainly not in the Danish home market, where 1142 have lost their jobs. Most of the remaining job losses result from the closure of a blade production facility in the far south of England.

Manufacturing capacity is rapidly being expanded in the US and China and in 2008 Vestas hired 5524 staff in anticipation of a 40% revenue growth this year. "These measures have given Vestas a substantial structural excess capacity in northern Europe, which has so far also manufactured for the US market," states the company. Large-scale wind power development in northern Europe is moving offshore, a sector in which Vestas has lost hundreds of megawatts of big orders to Siemens in recent months.

"Being No. 1 means being the best, not necessarily the biggest operator," states Vestas, definitively giving up its ambition to remain the largest wind turbine supplier.

Contrary to the expectations of market analysts, Vestas is sticking to its forecast for 2009 of a 20% increase in revenues to EUR 7.2 billion and a profit margin on turnover of 11-13%. "During the past six months, the wind industry has suffered from a funding crisis, not a demand crisis," says Vestas. "The projects that will help Vestas meet its forecast for 2009 are currently only waiting funding; everything else is in place." Government economic stimulus efforts are beginning to work and prospects are improving, particularly in the US and Britain, the company adds.

Prices down

In recent years, Vestas has taken every opportunity to refute accusations that wind turbine prices are too high, but its quarterly report reveals that "prices of a number of components peaked in 2008" and are not expected to rise this year. "Longer term, lower raw materials prices could lead to lower prices of wind turbines," admits Vestas. A number of major wind investors, including Anders Dahl of Swedish utility Vattenfall, report that turbine prices are falling.

In the first three months of this year, 43% of Vestas' turnover was achieved in Europe, 50% in North and South America and 7% in the Asia Pacific region. Turnover increased 58% compared with the same period last year and earnings before interest and tax rose 124% to EUR 76 million. Wind turbine deliveries were 790 MW, with 187 MW sold to the United States and 139 MW to Germany, the two largest markets on Vestas' list of sales to 19 countries. At the bottom of the list was home market Denmark alongside Hungary. They took 1 MW each.

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