Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Vestas Says "Hooroo" to Australia

Vestas, one of the world's leading wind energy companies, is leaving Australia, calling the nation's wind energy market "unviable."

Vestas Australia Wind Technology will close its 2 1/2 year-old turbine blade factory in Portland, Victoria at the end of this year. Consequently, 130 jobs will be lost. The Danish company's Asia-Pacific senior vice president, Jorn Hammer, was quite forthcoming with his criticism of the Australian government:

"It's not viable for us to make further investments in the Australian market...we don't see the market as big enough in Australia to justify the expense...When we committed to build the factory we believed there was support for the wind industry in Australia, and that has not come through to the extent we anticipated.

We have the view that if the government steps up to the plate and puts the necessary security for a long-term market in place we'll have another look at the market, but I guess we'll be a little more careful next time...(Not) just believing in what they've been telling us, we need to see some hard evidence to justify investment."

Australian officials were upset with the divestment and some pointed fingers at the Howard administration, which has been criticized in the past for moving too slowly to address climate change and implement solutions.

Vestas apparently made the ultimate decision to end its manufacturing business in Australia when it was told the government would not extend its mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) of 2 percent renewables. A spokeswoman for federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane told the Western Australian that Vestas knew the MRET wouldn't be renewed even before they decided to build in Portland in the first place.

Last year, Vestas also shut down a wind turbine factory in Tasmania, laying off 65 employees.

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