Siemens hopes UK to beat 1.5GW

Siemens offshore wind boss Michael Hannibal says he hopes for a UK offshore market above an average 1.5GW of annual installations.

"I hope for more than 1.5GW, and a more reliable predictable market," said Hannibal, responding to comments from Areva UK boss and RenewableUK chairman Julian Brown, in a panel session at Global Offshore Wind 2014 moderated by Recharge editor-in-chief Ben Backwell.

Brown told the Glasgow event he expects the UK to be able to deliver 1.5GW per year, adding: "If you had asked me a couple of years ago I would have said more."

Brown said this level constitutes a sizeable industrial opportunity for turbine manufacturers.

"We are now in the real grown-up world. I think we are now clear about where the real pipeline is for 2020. The next real challenge is to see which of the developers will go forward on this," said Brown.

Masato Yamada, chief strategy officer of MHI-Vestas Offshore Wind, said "the opportunities are a bit lower than had once been expected, but the market is still attractive for us," adding: "We want to be good competitors for Siemens."

Yamada said MHI-Vestas is still actively considering setting up manufacturing operations in the UK as it defines its supply-chain strategy.

Charles Hendry MP, the chairman of Round 3 developer Forewind, said "the level of ambition has to be linked to the ability to bring cost down and that way the ambition can be much greater than the 1.5GW a year".

Iberdrola's offshore managing director Jonathan Cole said that he sees a competitive turbine market developing, but based on probably only three to four companies (excluding China).

"There is a clear path to 10GW by 2020 for the UK, so the future looks fantastic for developers, but we need to be sustainable and self-funded, and cut costs dramatically."

Cole said that he expects the offshore wind market to be driven primarily by utilities, despite the recent balance sheet problems that some companies have faced.

"At some stage other investors will come to the market from other sources, but for now I don't see this market being run by IPPs or small developers."