Full speed ahead for Vestas/MHI

The CEO of the newly-formed joint venture between Vestas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) said it will get the 8MW V164 turbine into serial production as early as the first quarter of 2015.

Jens Tommerup said depending on market development and orders received, early  2015 production would allow the “game changer” V164 to target European and then emerging offshore wind markets such as China and Japan. He reaffirmed a Q1 2014 turbine prototype deadline.

Tommerup told Recharge it is important that the JV is keeping the knowledge base and HQ of the new venture in Denmark.

Where to base production for the giant new turbine will depend on the evolution of the market and the customer base, he added.

"As you know for the prototypes nacelle will be built in Lindo and blades in Isle of Wight. Where we build production facilities after that will depend on market development and where we get the orders...we have many opportunities."

One of the potentially most significant elements of the new partnership is the relationship between the JV and UK utility SSE.

SSE has a development pact with Mitsubishi over its 7MW offshore turbine, and has also previously said this could extend to deployment of machines at SSE projects.

Tommerup said: "We are forming a management team and then we will come back in more detail. But in principle, Vestas and MHI will be putting their offshore business into the joint venture."

Separately, Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe (MPSE) senior manager for renewables Pete Clusky indicated to Recharge that the deal would not affect any arrangements between SSE and the Japanese group.

Asked by Recharge whether the MHI deal means they can leverage bigger balance sheets to give guarantees for offshore projects, Tommerup said: "It's difficult to answer because each project is different, but of course having the added financial strength of the two partners is important."

Tommerup also stressed the role of the 3MW V112 in the new venture. He said the smaller turbine would allow the Vestas/MHI entity to compete for projects ahead of the flagship 8MW’s entry to service.

Both sides are stressing the value of MHI’s massive technical resources to the venture.

But Tommerup said this would be integrated with care, and “needs to be proven and in co-operation with our customers”.

Jin Kato, general manager of the wind  division of MHI claimed the tie-up represented the “best match to become global leader in offshore wind turbine industry”.

He pointed to Mitsubishi’s track record in innovation ranging from marine to aerospace, which “means that we can bring various technologies that can support development of wind turbine technologies”.

Vestas' new CEO Anders Runevad said he was relaxed about the option for MHI to take a 51% controlling stake in the JV in April 2016, adding he is confident about the governance of the venture.

Asked if the JV was targeting the number-one spot in the market or had set specific goals, Runevad said: “We aspire to be global leader," but added more time was needed for the JV to come out with targets, market forecasts and the like.

“We respect all competition [which] drives industry forward, and believe we have  a set-up that will allow us to compete.”