Vestas banks on giant turbine to lift offshore market share
* Presents prototype of 8 MW V164 design
* Aims to be among top two offshore players by 2020
* Offshore key challenge for new CEO Runevad
By Teis Jensen
ODENSE, Denmark, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Danish wind turbine maker Vestas is banking on a more powerful design to become a leading player in the offshore market where it has lagged competitors like Germany's Siemens.
"We want to be a strong top-two player in the offshore market by 2020," Vestas Offshore Senior Vice President Uffe Vinther-Schou told reporters at a site near Odense where the prototype V164 turbine is 90 percent complete.
Supplying turbines offshore, where noise and visual pollution face less public resistance, is seen as a major growth area and a key challenge for new CEO Anders Runevad.
Under his predecessor Ditlev Engel, Vestas issued five profit warnings as it struggled with overcapacity and falling state subsidies.
The new turbine will have power output of 8 megawatts (MW), dwarfing Siemens' 6 MW offshore turbine which has been a popular choice in recent offshore tenders. Vestas' biggest offshore turbine currently has capacity of 3.3 MW.
"The V164 will be a game-changer," Vinther-Schou said.
Vinther-Schou said Vestas is still interested in getting a partner in the offshore segment but said the company will get the V164 to market even without collaboration.
Vestas said last year it was in talks with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries from Japan but no partnership has been announced.
Chief Technology Officer Anders Vedel said there had been no major problems with the prototype and he still expected it to be installed in the first quarter of 2014.
"Vestas needs a lever to get into the offshore market and the V164 could serve that purpose," analyst Michael Friis Jorgensen from Alm. Brand Markets told Reuters.
Vestas - the world's second-largest wind turbine maker after American GE - has fallen behind offshore competitors because it has been focusing on its financial problems, analyst Jacob Pedersen from Sydbank said.
He believes the V164 turbine will be ready for an expected pick-up in the offshore market in 2015-16. The market is now at a standstill due to regulatory issues in the main markets Germany and the U.K.
Out of 44,799 MW of new wind power capacity installed globally in 2012, only 1,295 MW was offshore, mainly in the U.K., according to Global Wind Energy Council.
This year more than 1,000 MW has already been installed in Europe, according to Vestas.
REpower, the German arm of India's Suzlon, and France's Areva are also competing in the offshore turbine market.
Vinther-Schou said that the offshore market is too small to justify more than five players. "We believe there will be consolidation and even exits from the market," he said.