February 7, 2018, by Anna Hirtenstein
Vestas Wind Systems A/S will offer solar power and storage, allowing the world’s biggest turbine maker to sell hybrid renewable plants that generate electricity around the clock.
“We broaden the scope to sustainable energy,” Chief Executive Officer Anders Runevad said Wednesday in a phone interview. “We see a fairly rapid increase in interest, people asking for hybrid is growing. That’s definitely in itself a new revenue stream to tap into.”
Vestas sees wind, solar and storage technologies combined in hybrid plants as complementary to one another. Electricity from solar and wind farms can be saved for later, replacing the need for fossil fuel to plug the gaps at night or when the air is still.
As global wind growth rates slow amid industry consolidation, Vestas is looking for new ways to keep its market-leading position. It bought Utopus Insights Inc, an analytics company that uses artificial intelligence to predict weather and energy output. Vestas is also working with Tesla Inc. and other battery makers to store energy from wind turbines.
The Aarhus, Denmark-based company won’t manufacture solar panels or batteries but it will be able to supply all components to build and maintain hybrid systems, according to Runevad.
“Vestas’ rising interest in hybrid projects, combining wind power with solar and/or storage, reflects new opportunities from the global energy transition,” said James Evans, analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. It also “tracks similar hybrid project research by peers Siemens Gamesa, Suzlon and Goldwind.”
The Danish company is already developing its first hybrid project in Australia, working with Tesla and WindLab Ltd. Runevad anticipates the global hybrid market could be 2 gigawatts in size, a fraction of the 11.2 gigawatts of wind turbines that Vestas installed in 2017.