Denmark suffered an energy crisis back in the 1970 when Prime Minister Anker Jørgensen defied the oil sheiks, and the country’s dependence on fossil fuel became all too evident. Drastic remedies were imposed. Some people still remember the wonderfully quiet Sundays when all the cars were grounded.
The alternative was renewable energy. In the 1930s, there were more than 30,000 wind turbines in Denmark (compared to 10,000 today).
The old ones disappeared to make way for oil, but the blacksmiths still had the blueprints.
The frightened government came up with generous subsidies and, in just a few years, Denmark became a world leader in the production of wind turbines.
If nothing else, we had proof that government subsidies had finally achieved something, as the wind turbine manufacturing industry went on to employ more than 10,000 people in Denmark alone.
However, no wind turbines have ever been sold without public subsidies, erection grants, high feed in tariffs, tax incentives and flexible planning.
And with the world forever changing, as oil sheiks nervously contemplate the possibility that they might have to forgo their Mercedes on Sundays, the question is whether wind can ever be viable enough to stop being an alternative and become a mainstream source of energy.
Vestas is one of the very few exclusive manufacturers. Siemens and GE, for example, also encompass nuclear and fossil fuel energies.
Vestas is the world leader, and we hope that the new management can fulfil the dreams of former chief executive Ditlev Engel and keep the nation’s darling fit and commercially strong.
Danish industry as such is rightly complaining about the PSO energy tax that pays for the strategic venture of sun and wind. Will the taxpayers continue to subsidise wind and lose jobs?
The new management is settling legal claims in the US. However, at the same time suing their former partner in India and effectively losing the Indian market.
Vestas is industrialised, internationalised but still not yet commercialised. However, with a Swedish senior management team of Bert Nordberg and Anders Runevad on board, it just may happen.