Vestas Navigates Winds Of Change

on December 09, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Building awareness of wind energy usage for consumers is part of a multi-pronged strategy that will help companies like Danish wind giant Vestas compete even in an increasingly challenging operating environment.

The company is a major sponsor of the WindMade label, an effort that has garnered support from more than a dozen new corporate entities since it launched this summer, and which celebrated its first six months and its new members at a recent event in New York City. Among the new members were Deutsche Bank and global medical technology firm BD.

Vestas SVP Global Marketing and Customer Insight Morten Albaek told Breaking Energy that the presence of leaders from a wide variety of industries and businesses underpins the intended broad appeal of the label.

The Wind Made label should begin to appear in stores in 2012, as the group launches its next phase of development with standards for consumer products. The success of Wind Made is a bright spot for an industry that Albaek acknowledges has “been through a tough couple of years.”

Vestas has experienced some of the price reductions forced by slipping demand and increased supply of wind turbines, Albaek says, but its global focus has cushioned the blow of declines in markets impacted over the past few years by the financial crisis. Vestas sells into nearly 70 different markets, and it already does business in markets like Brazil and India that are on the industry’s “strategic radar.”

Despite problems in developed markets for wind energy, including the potential for cancelled subsidies and tax credits, Vestas’ strategy is more about expanding into emerging economies than transferring the focus away from existing markets. The company is forecasting that wind energy will be competitive with fossil fuels in the “near future,” and stands ready to compete without subsidies, though Albaek says that renewables receive an amount equal to only 10% of the roughly $500 billion in subsidies that go to fossil fuels.

“The idea that only renewables are getting subsidies is a false reality,” Albaek says.

The potential end of tax credits for wind development in the US and the mounting concerns about the health of the European economy amid an ongoing sovereign debt crisis are both obvious strategic challenges for Vestas, but Albaek predicts the company will overcome them. “We’re still going to run a business – an agile, diversified and cost effective business – one that can earn money whether or not conditions are in our favor,” he says.