Vestas is one of the leading wind turbine manufacturers in the world. The Danish global company began over 100 years ago as a blacksmith shop in a farming village. As time evolved they focused on the growing wind energy industry. Roby Roberts, the senior vice president of external relations in the United States, shares his view of the growing composites industry.
Q: What caused Vestas’s change from a farming company to wind energy?
During the energy crisis in the 1970’s the Danish government wanted to make sure they would never be that vulnerable again. Thus, Denmark began to look towards alternative supplies so as not to rely on others who many not support our have our national interests in mind.
Q: Where do you see a large wind power potential?
Germany and Spain are already strong wind power consumers, and they will continue to grow. There is also a growing demand within China as well as a lot of potential in the U.S. However, it is more difficult to grow within the U.S. because the U.S. has a harder time looking at long-term energy policy.
Q: To date, how many wind turbines have you installed?
We have installed over 38,000 turbines in 63 countries. The majority of those turbines are located in Europe, with the U.S. in a close second.
Q: How does your company stay competitive?
Being a global company helps us stay competitive because at any given point some markets will be up and some will be down, so it helps level the playing field. In the past few years we’ve had growth and are now focused on hiring the right people and building factories.
Q: In your opinion, what would help the composites industry expand?
Composites are critical to our industry structurally. We invest a great deal, including partnering with others, in wind blade R&D. We need help creating turbines that create more efficient wind flow and capture more energy.
Q: How do these partnerships help your company?
Of course we like to grow our own talent, but on the research side it is invaluable to get different minds and different people looking at things in a new way.
Q: What business/legislative progress is Vestas most looking forward to in the coming year?
Businesswise, we are preparing for big growth in North America. We built one factory and are now doing three others.
On the legislative end, we are anxious to see what will come out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference this December in Copenhagen, Denmark. We wonder how it will affect our market because whatever decisions come out of it will be an important driver for our industry. Of course it will take some time for rules to be written and a carbon process to get started. We are optimistic because there is a consensus for global change, but it is a fine line. For example, how will the cap and trade be set-up?