The CEO of Orsted rejected claims by his counterpart at Italian renewables giant Enel that offshore wind is still too “risky”, saying the technology “has proved itself again and again”.
Henrik Poulsen – who aims to lead Orsted to 15GW of wind at sea by 2025 as it advances on three continents – said the sector can show a strong track record in areas such as construction and O&M, and strong operational performance.
Poulsen was commenting on Enel CEO Francesco Starace's verdict on offshore wind in an interview with Recharge, where he said the renewable source is “still a niche, still risky, very capital intensive,” as far as the 43GW global onshore wind, solar and hydro operator is concerned.
Poulsen said: “We’ve been building large-scale offshore wind farms since 2002 and the technology is proving itself again and again,” adding that Orsted, which began its offshore wind journey as Dong Energy, has now built 24 major projects.
“We have a pretty strong construction track record, our O&M operations are also quite convincing, we have very high availability on these wind farms – including the ones that have been spinning for many years.”
“I think the facts would basically support our position on that particular topic.”
Orsted – which is building the world’s biggest wind farms in UK waters – hopes for a Brexit deal and an “orderly transition” as the clock tick towards the nation’s exit from the EU, said Poulsen.
The company’s discussions with suppliers left it “reasonably comfortable” that it would be able to continue the construction of the Hornsea 1 and 2 offshore wind farms, 1.2GW and 1.4GW resepctively, even in the case of a “hard Brexit”, said Poulsen.
The EU exit does not fundamentally change Orsted’s investment plans in the UK, he added.
Poulsen was speaking after Orsted said it expects to grow operating profits again this year after after a record 2018.
The Danish group – which is currently assessing its future plans in Taiwan after the government’s revised support arrangements – posted an annual net profit of DKr19.5bn ($3bn), up from DKr13.3bn in 2017.
Operating profits (Ebitda) were DKr30bn, up from DKr22.5bn.
Both the net and operating figures were new highs for Orsted, driven by its burgeoning offshore wind output.
The company said it expects Ebitda growth, excluding new partnerships, of 4-10% this year, to reach DKr15.5-16.5bn.