Vestas is a world leading wind turbine manufacturer with more than 40 years of experience. The company designs, produces, installs, and services wind turbines across the globe, holding more than 100 Gigawatt (GW) or 17% of the global installed base.
Vestas opened its office in Romania in 2011. How has the company’s portfolio evolved since, to meet the changing needs of the market?
Our market share in Romania is close to 48%, having installed approximately 3 GW. The wind energy market here debuted very well, effervescently even, if we consider how quickly the developments took place. But the progress stopped just as abruptly following the legislative changes in 2013, and our strategy since has been to focus mostly on services.
The core of our investments went into developing the skills of our technicians, and despite the local market being almost frozen we have managed to double our team during this time, reaching more than 160 employees. This was possible because we started offering services to other Vestas entities in countries that have many active projects, such as Austria, Germany, Sweden or Finland.
Last year we opened a new logistics and training center close to Constanta, that spans an impressive surface of 2,500 sqm and that serves the entire region of Eastern Europe. We are just preparing to send a team in Russia for instance, a market that is currently booming, and we expect to see new activity in Romania as well soon. Through this center and the expertize we have nurtured in the past years we are completely ready to take on the work that is coming and poised for growth.
Many companies are struggling to find workforce in Romania, how did you manage to consolidate your team given this pervasive human resource challenge?
Together with safety, human resources have always been priority number one for us. Typically, the training period for a technician to be able to work independently takes up to six months, and to reach a level where they can perform very complex troubleshooting it can take up to three years. We did not shy away from making the necessary investments to develop these skills, but we were well aware that it was essential to maintain this talent within the company.
We used various methods to make this happen and the fact that Vestas is present in many countries around the world served us very well. For instance, we came up with a rotation program, so workers do not have to leave home for very long periods, and this allowed us to keep competent people on board and also gave them the opportunity to strengthen their skills and learn to work with the newest technologies. Another strategic element was that we offered senior employees the option to become trainers or technical advisors and this really solidified the know-how we hold under our roof, even during a period when the local industry was stagnating.
The most recent wind turbine technology installed in Romania is already 10 years old - since then, both technology and costs have evolved significantly. Can you explain what were some of the major advancements that were made?
Just as any other technology wind turbine technology becomes less expensive and more efficient as it evolves. In 2010 we used to install 3 MW turbines, state-of-the-art at the time, whereas presently we have developed 5 MW+ turbines. Similarly, 10 years ago the rotor diameter was 90 m and now we reached 162 m. This means a higher production capacity and more power in areas where the wind is less strong (the bigger the rotor, the less wind it needs to spin, and implicitly the more power it produces). Doubling the rotor diameter means up to four-fold revenues. The hub heights have also increased compared to a decade ago - the average hub height in Romania is around 105 m presently, but the technology that has been developed meanwhile goes as high as 166 m. The higher the turbine the more and steadier the wind blows. 1 m more hub height roughly means 1% more revenue.
What are your expectations for Romania’s renewable energy sector over the coming two-three years, as well as your final message to the investment community?
We believe strongly that the market will re-launch in the next period and we are fully prepared to assist in the process. It is difficult to say exactly when this will happen, but the fact that producers are starting to prepare, by renewing their authorizations for instance, is a very good sign.
Our message to the investment community is therefore to keep their eyes on Romania, as we are confident new opportunities will soon unfold with the renewable energy targets of Europe, and Romania following with increasing ambition and shaping the right policy and market frameworks.
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