Vestas has not taken a straight-line to the top, but rather has gained valuable market and manufacturing experience through trials and tribulations. Vestas, despite some setbacks, has remained driven to make wind energy as viable as oil and gas. Vestas has shown that it is capable of achieving this by continuing to manufacture reliable wind turbines.
The name Vestas was arrived at by reducing the orginal name VEstjyskSTaaltenik, in 1945. The name was found to be unmanageable, and was shortened to Vestas for a simpler business name. In 1987, after missing a deadline of wind turbine shipments, Vestas focuses on only the production of wind turbines and changes its name to Vestas Wind Systems A/S
Vestas began as a blacksmith company owned and operated by the Hansen family. It all started when H.S. Hansen moved to Lem, Denmark, where he bought a blacksmith shop and quickly gained a reputation of being full of ideas. Customers became used to Smith Hansen's ingenuity and trustworthiness. If a customer had a problem with his work, he would quickly correct the problem.
By 1928, the family business began developing steel window frames, and established Dansk Staalvindue Industri, a company specialized in developing window frames for industrial buildings. The company experienced a boom in business until World War 2, when occupation and the ration of metal supplies led to a drop in business. The Hansen family had to fight to keep their company in business during this rough economic time.
In 1945, the war ended. The name Vestas was conceived in 1945 as a shortened version of the name VEstjyskSTaaltenik. The length of the name was unmanageable so it was shortened to make it more functional in business. Vestas began working in empty barracks left by German soldiers on household appliances such as mixers and kitchen scales.
In 1950, Vestas invested in a worldwide patent for a milk urn cooler. Vestas began developing practical agricultural equipment, and exporting its first goods to Finland, Germany, and Belgium.
In 1956, Vestas began a partnership with the Burmeister & Wain shipyard to develop a new type of cooler for turbo chargers. The step forward from the milk urn proved to be a creative and important step for Vestas, and the intercooler soon became a bestselling product.
In 1959, Peder Hansen bought out his partners to take sole control of Vestas. However, the very next year in 1960, the Vestas offices and warehouse burned to the ground. Despite the enormous set back, Vestas was able to achieve a higher turnover in 1960 than the previous year, and was able to expand its workforce to 100 employees by the end of 1960.
In 1968, Vestas adapted to the sudden global need for hydraulic cranes for light trucks, making it Vestas' first export product. With the advent of the hydraulic cranes, Vestas began shipping 96% of its production to 65 different countries. No other Vestas product has been exported to as many countries.
In 1971, Vestas hired its first engineer Birger Madsen. His reputation as an innovator proved to be vital to the development of wind turbines at Vestas in the coming years. Vestas is on the path towards developing wind into electricity.
In 1978, Vestas carried out its first wind turbine experiments in secret to avoid backlash from dissenting customers and suppliers. The initial wind prototype looked like a giant egg whisk, and failed to produce electricity. In the same year, the first successful wind turbine was being developed outside of the company by two blacksmiths, Karl Erik Jorgensen and Henrik Stiesdal. The two blacksmiths developed a 3-blade wind turbine, however did not have the money to go into production. They contacted Vestas for help in testing the design. Vestas discovered the success of the 3-blade model and asked the Karl and Henrik to join the Vestas team.
In 1981, Vestas discovered a design flaw in the blades' construction. Vestas began producing its own components made from fiberglass. Meanwhile, Zond placed an order for 155 wind turbines after new legislation in the U.S. gave tax incentives to wind energy investors. A year later, Zond ordered 550 wind turbines. Vestas increased its workforce from 200 to 870 employees. The U.S. liked the strength of the Vestas turbine as a result of years of experience in agriculture.
In 1985, Vestas uveiled the first pitch-regulated turbine. The OptiTip,able to achieve the highest efficiency on the market by constantly altering the angle of the blades, went into production. Zond placed an order for 1,220 turbines to be delivered by december 1st. On the second shipment, the shipping company went bankrupt and the order missed the deadline for delivery. When the turbines did finally arrive, Zond refused the order and couldn't pay for the turbines already delivered.
In 1986, Vestas found itself with a large stockpile of turbines, all in perfect working order. Furthermore, the Danish government changed the tax laws on turbines, halving the rebate. Vestas went into suspension of payments on October 3rd, 1986, and the future of Vestas looked quite bleak.
In response to crisis of 1986, Vestas decided to focus exclusively on creating wind turbines. Much of the original Vestas group was sold, and a new company, Vestas Wind Systems A/S was born. The company was reduced to a workforce of 60, and Johannes Poulsen became Managing Director. Vestas was chosen for 6 wind energy projects in India sponsored by Danida, a Danish state-financed aid agency.
In 1991, Vestas sold its 1,000th wind turbine. Vestas had made a recovery and was now growing as wind farms around the globe are developing and growing in size. Vestas wind turbines are in operation globally in numerous countries, and Vestas was getting closer to becoming a global leader in wind energy. An even larger breathrough, the OptiSlip, was developed and ensured for the first time that the grid will be supplied with an even electrical output from wind turbines.
In 1995, Vestas created the offshore wind turbine farm Tunoe Knob located in Denmark, one of the first offshore wind farms ever built. The offshore wind turbine farms have the potential to increase energy production by 15 percent. Vestas' construction of the offshore wind turbine proved to be very efficient, as Vestas installed ten 500 kW turbines with 20-meter long blades in just five days.
In 1997, Vestas technology development led to the growth of the wind turbine's size. The V66 turbine was developed, the largest commercial wind turbine in the world up to this point. The 1.65 MW of power produced by the V66 is 55 times more power than the first wind turbine produced by Vestas in 1979. It produces enough electricy to power roughly 1,000 households. While Vestas has grown to a global leader in wind energy technology, supplying 15 different countries, the company still sought turbine efficiency that could compete with traditional energy sources.In 1998, Vestas went public, recognized by the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. The capital from going public was used to boost the growth of the company. With a share of 22.1 percent of the world's wind power, Vestas was the largest wind company on the market.
1999-2004In 1999, Vestas developed the V80-2.0 MW wind turbine in response to growing demand. The V80 features the Optispeed system, designed for functioning in areas where wind speeds are low. The V80-2.0 MW wind turbine is still in Vestas' portfolio today.
In 2000, Vestas received its largest order to date. the Spanish company Gamesa Eolica S.A. ordered 1800 of Vestas' wind turbines. In November of 2000, Vestas offered shares to its employees, of which 80 percent accepted the offer.
In 2001, Vestas was selected to construct the first large offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The wind farm would use 80 of the V80 wind turbines, which supplied about 150,000 Danish households. Also in 2001, Vestas signed contracts in Costa Rica and Iran, showing how far reaching the market for wind had developed. France, Portugal, and Poland were also all showing positive signs of growth.
In 2002, managing director for 15 years, Johannes Poulsen, retired and Svend Sigaard took over his duties. Vestas finished installing all 80 wind turbines in the North Sea ahead of schedule, however none of the 80 turbines worked properly so they were all recalled. Vestas showed its resiliency and follow-through on projects by delivering on 80 new turbines from the nacelle plant.In 2003, Vestas launched the V90 wind turbine, which would improve efficiency and power in the form of three new turbine types: the V90-1.8MW, the V90-2.0MW, and the V90-3.0MW.
In 2004, Vestas merged with NEG Micon, another Danish wind company, and the new company became an undisputed world leader with a 32% market share in the wind power industry. Svend Sigaard retired in 2004, and the company took a loss for the year. However, despite a loss, Vestas finished the year with a 34% market share and sales of 2.56 million EUR.
In 2005, new CEO Ditlev Engel unveiled the company's new strategy, called "the will to win." The strategy layed plans to make wind energy an energy source on par with oil and gas. Financially, 2005 was a tough year due to high steel prices and a weak U.S. dollar. However, the company was still able to land its largest order to date to Horizon Wind Energy in the U.S.
In 2006, Vestas opened its first production facility in Tianjan, China. The increase in demand of Vestas turbines forced the company to nearly double its capacity. However, repair costs were still holding Vestas back. Vestas was still losing money, so 80 engineers were assembled to focus solely on repairs. Vestas' share prices rose 10% as optimism about the company began to grow.
In 2007, Vestas was now installing one wind turbine every 4 hours around the globe. The wind turbines, collectively, were producing 50 million MW of power, enough to power millions of households.
In 2008, Vestas had its best year ever. Vestas achieved record financial results, an operating profit of 668 million EUR, and created 5,524 jobs.Vestas Mountain Video
Vestas has installed over 33,500 wind turbines globally in 63 countries on 5 continents, and Vestas forsees continued growth in installations in the future. The company currently employs 20,000 people globally, and is continuing to expand in China, Spain, and the United States.
Vestas plans to open its first U.S.-based wind turbine manufacturing plant in 2010 in Brighton, Colorado. The company estimates the creation of 1350 jobs. The company will consist of two factories, the blade factory and the nacelle plant:
- The nacelle assembly factory will have an annual production capacity of 1,400 nacelles. With an output of 1,800 blades per year, the blade factory in Brighton will match the annual output of the Windsor plant, bringing the company’s production capacity for wind turbine blades in the USA to 3,600 per year. Vestas’ tower factory, also to be built in Colorado, will have a production capacity of 900 towers per year. Once fully operational in the first half of 2010, the blade factory will bring 650 new jobs to Brighton. The nacelle factory, which is expected to run at full capacity in mid 2010, will create an additional 700 jobs.
- Vestas Image
- Vestas Strategy
- Vestas History
- Wind as a modern energy source: the Vestas view
- Vestas in Brighton