By Christoph Steitz, Vera Eckert and Tom Käckenhoff
BERLIN (Reuters) – German utility EnBW <EBKG.DE> could seek more partners in its planned push into the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind sector, its chief executive said.
EnBW has already formed a joint venture with project developer Trident Winds to cater to the U.S. west coast but is so far working alone on the booming east coast, where it set up a subsidiary in the fourth quarter of 2018.
“We’re open to partnerships also in the offshore business,” Frank Mastiaux told Reuters at the annual Handelsblatt energy conference in Berlin.
“At the moment, it is very difficult to develop new offshore wind parks in our home market Germany as well as in the remaining parts of Europe. We want to continue to grow and are looking for attractive foreign markets in a very selective way.”
Along with Taiwan, the United States has become one of the global offshore wind industry’s growth markets, with HSBC expecting up to 8.7 gigawatts worth of capacity auctions there over the next four years.
European rivals EDF <EDF.PA> and EDP Renovaveis <EDPR.LS> have each teamed up with oil major Shell <RDSa.L> to make bids for U.S. offshore wind capacity, with one of them having been successful in recent bids.
Despite its strong regional focus, EnBW has been aggressive in its offshore wind expansion, with installed capacity of 336 megawatt (MW) and a further 609 MW under construction.
Last year, it became the first German utility to take stakes in offshore wind projects in Taiwan, where it works together with Macquarie <MQG.AX> and Swancor <3708.TW>.
EnBW, which lost out in a first auction round last year, is now preparing for upcoming tenders, Mastiaux said.
“When it comes to entering a market, no matter in which industry, it’s always the exception to be successful right away. Usually, you have to learn a few lessons first.”
EnBW has cut the profit contribution from conventional energy sources to 18 percent now from up to 80 percent in the past, but has decided against a major corporate restructuring, unlike larger peers RWE <RWEG.DE> and E.ON <EONGn.DE>.
Mastiaux, a former E.ON and BP <BP.L> executive, said that would not change, as large structural overhauls swallow a lot of time, energy and money, adding he would rather use these resources to expand EnBW’s business.
That includes examining retrofits of coal plants, which are due to be phased out by Germany, but Mastiaux said operators would have to be compensated if there were cases of expropriation.
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz, Tom Kaeckenhoff and Vera Eckert, editing by Riham Alkousaa and Ken Ferris)