What are your thoughts on the recent passing of the Federal Government’s carbon pricing mechanism?
I have led two G20 Summit working groups on green growth with companies from all over the world, and saw a carbon price recommended at both of those meetings. Some people recommend it, and some people go out and do it.
I am so happy to have been here in Australia during the passing of the carbon price, and want to say to all those people who I know have fought very hard on this that their efforts have been highly recognised around the world. People are very good at criticising but not so good at praising, so I’m extremely pleased that I have had this opportunity to praise Australia – also as a member of the G20, and say that Australia is walking the talk.
How would you describe the current state of the wind industry?Article continues below…
I would say that in the six years I have been coming to Australia, it has improved. Six years ago, Vestas had two manufacturing plants in Australia, and both had to be closed down due to the lack of visibility and planning.
Everyone understands that Australia has a lot of resources in the ground, but I would like Australians to understand that wind is like clean coal floating in the air. Having fantastic wind resources is not something that every nation has. There are a lot of countries around the world that would really love to have the kind of wind resources that Australia has, and I sincerely hope that they will be tapped in years to come.
What are some of the grid challenges currently facing Australia?
For me, investing in infrastructure is what all smart modern societies do. People talk about the cost, but if you do not make this energy transformation, you are actually creating a false economy, because later you will have to pay substantially more for not making such an investment. So you are actually just delaying something that you might as well do now, and ultimately, the faster you do it, the cheaper it will become.
I think it is very important for governments to secure in the short- medium- and long-terms the lowest cost of energy. Australia has a fantastic opportunity for creating the financing to make this happen, where other countries will have to struggle. I think Australia is in a privileged position to really take on this leadership, as Australia has a tremendous knowledge about energy.
I’m sure in Australia there will be a lot of opportunities to capitalise. I recently heard that Australia has been praised for having some of the most efficient energy-generating plants in the world. I don’t see this as opposition. I see this as a joint effort that needs to be made by the established energy sector, together with us, together with government and together with the grid side, as that’s the only way you can advance.
The vision for Vestas is to be wind, oil and gas. I don’t see this as one sector against another, for me it is very much a cooperation. Fossil fuel is going to be our base load in the world for decades to come. There is no argument about that.
The important issue is to develop clean energy, so I’m very excited about talking to big Australian companies who are now embarking on this journey, like AGL and Meridian.
When I tell people that Vestas has a big research and development centre in Houston, Texas, which is mostly known for being huge in oil and gas, they are surprised to find out that it’s the largest wind state in the United Sates. One of the reasons Vestas is in Texas is because there is a tremendous knowledge about transmission there, from a research and development perspective, which has been built up over a number of years.
A lot of people ask me what the secret of the Danish model is. I think the Danish model’s success is that everybody has participated. It can only be done when you break down the barriers, and you get the right people together.
Ditlev Engel is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vestas Wind Systems, a position he has held since 2005. Before taking on this role, Mr Engel was Group President and CEO of Hempel, the company where he began his career as a trainee. Mr Engel is a member of the General Council of the Confederation of Danish Industries, the Industrial Policy Committee of the Confederation of Danish Industries, the International Advisory Panel on Energy under the Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Industry Advisory Group of the International Energy Agency. Mr Engel studied at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark where he took a diploma in accounting and financial management.