Wind Turbine Maker Vestas Looks at
by Stine Jacobsen
COPENHAGEN -- Denmark's Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine maker, is keen to expand into areas such as energy storage to increase the global use of wind power and bring costs down.
The wind industry is entering a phase of slower growth and steadier demand for turbines, prompting producers to look at alternatives to grow revenue.
"The storage side is interesting and there are a lot of small start-ups that might be of interest. I'm looking for industry batteries," Vestas Chairman Bert Nordberg told Reuters.
"If you can store over-production in a good way it would take down the total cost."
Energy storage is the capture of energy produced for use at a later time, for instance in the form of batteries. The technology is becoming increasingly viable with the rise in sales of electric cars.
In January, U.S. electric car maker Tesla launched a massive battery storage facility in the California desert. In Europe, a former Tesla executive wants to build a plant to rival the scale of his former employer's Gigafactory in Sweden.
Nordberg said Vestas could consider buying small stakes in many companies "to see which one wins before you go for a major acquisition".
"We have 3.2 billion euro in cash and no debt so we can afford to invest," he said, declining to say how much the firm would be willing to spend.
He added that he preferred investing the money rather than initiating a buy-back program.
"A buy-back is pretty boring. It's better if we find something that can develop the company so I'm pushing management to have better ideas than buy-backs," he said.
Vestas came back from the brink of bankruptcy just four years ago and the share price has risen more than 1,000 percent over the past five years.
But the company could lose its status as the world's biggest wind turbine maker as Germany's Siemens and Spain's Gamesa agreed to combine their assets in the sector.
"We definitely are going to make their life miserable. We are going to take the deals... We have exactly the same goal that we should the biggest player," Nordberg said.
While he expected consolidation among smaller players in the industry, Vestas was not aiming to buy anything big.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen
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