Samsung silent on offshore future

Korean industrial giant Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) today failed to clarify the status of its offshore wind programme, after Recharge revealed it will conduct a strategic review and put activity in the sector on hold. 

SHI has not denied that the review will be held, despite several requests from Recharge for a statement from its representatives in the UK, where its 7MW offshore turbine prototype is sited.

Industry sources with knowledge of the situation told Recharge on Friday that the review would take place, with no date set for its completion.

Officials in Scotland, where the 7MW prototype is sited at the Energy Park Fife, Methil, were also unable to say that it is business as usual for SHI there.

Development agency Scottish Enterprise, which set up the energy park, said it would not comment on "any speculation regarding Samsung and is continuing to work closely with the company to support its plans for offshore wind".

The Scottish Government said its agencies would maintain "strong relationships" with SHI, without elaborating further.

A spokesman for SSP Technology, which fabricated the blades for the prototype S-7.0-171 erected at the Energy Park Fife in Methil, Scotland, said: "Offshore wind energy is a challenging market. We cannot comment on our customer's strategy."

Despite its rapid progress in deploying its prototype in shallow waters in Methil, Fife, Samsung faces formidable rivals for the orders needed to make an impact in a European offshore wind sector that is set to be smaller than seemed likely a few years ago.

Recharge Insight director Robert Clover said that Samsung reviewing its options "would not come as a massive surprise".

He said: "As we highlighted in January, the OEM market for offshore is rapidly consolidating and given the investment costs required to profitably build scale in this market, there looks to be room for maybe three to four players or JVs in offshore.

"Samsung was one manufacturer that we had highlighted would need to find a partner or aggressively use its financial strength to offer performance and/or construction guarantees to secure a big enough pipeline to warrant further investment or else take a decision to exit this market."

Clover added: "The former strategy is quite high risk and it seems maybe the moment for making a tough decision has arrived."