Both power and values are created when top-quality Danish engineering meets high-quality Norwegian wind. Literally.

TEXT: RUTH ASTRID L. SÆTER PHOTO: THOMAS HAUGERSVEEN

The wind is a constant presence on the island of Vannøya, but it is of high quality, as it blows unremittingly through the Fakken offshore wind farm, far north in the county of Troms in Norway. Here, 18 wind turbines stand majestically, each of them 125 meters tall, dispersed over an area of 3.5 square kilometres of exposed, sea-weathered land.

The wind farm has come into existence thanks to Danish wind power expertise coupled with financial support from DNB. Though it must be said that there was a little headwind on the way.

Danish energy commitment

Danish Vestas has produced wind power turbines for almost 40 years. Today, the Group is a global market leader within wind power. Turbines from Vestas can be found in 75 countries, on six continents, offshore and onshore,  including at the Fakken wind farm, and soon at Fosen, Norway’s largest wind power project.

However, some five years ago, while the Fakken wind farm was being built, dark clouds were gathering above Vestas. To put it simply, the company had invested too much money in the project, but earned too little. One of the banks that stepped in to help Vestas was DNB.

“As part of our commitment to renewable energy, we had entered into a customer relationship with Vestas as early as in 2006, when we became part of their lending syndicate. It was not coincidental that we wanted Vestas to become a DNB customer. The company is an important player in the wind industry, and wind power is something which Norway is just starting to harness,” explains Sven Bakken, head of DNB’s renewable energy section.

Øyvind Rustad is DNB’s relationship manager for Vestas and has followed the company closely from the start. He remembers well the problems the company had:

“The company had to be refinanced and this was done during an intense six months in 2012. The solution was that we, together with five other banks, put in place a financing solution of EUR 1 billion.”

In good times and in bad

Marika Fredriksson, chief financial officer of Vestas, emphasises the excellent relationship the company has with DNB:

It is only fair and right that those who have supported us through the bad times, earn money from us when things go well.”

Marika Fredriksson, chief financial officer of Vestas

“It is fundamental to have mutual trust and understanding for each other, and this is where DNB has really met our expectations. They understand our operations, and they realise just how complex the renewable industry is. They also trust us, in both good and difficult times,” says Fredriksson, who stresses the importance of having a long-term relationship:

“Now that things are going so well, there are many banks that would like to do business with us, but we will not be opportunistic and throw a good partnership out of the window just because someone else comes along and knocks on the door. It is only fair and right that those who have supported us through the bad times, earn money from us when things go well.”

“We have a good relationship with Vestas,” confirms Øyvind Rustad. “It is clear that the balance of power in the relationship between a bank and a company will often shift and in the energy industry, there are many external conditions that affect the bottom line. Everything is governed by governments’ energy policies and market developments, and of course new low points may occur. However, both Vestas and we are thinking long term,” says Rustad.

“DNB has been a very reliable and highly-appreciated business partner ever since we entered into a relationship with the bank,” says Hans Smith, head of Group Treasury and Investor Relations, at Vestas.

“DNB has been instrumental to Vestas being where we are today. On the whole, the future looks increasingly brighter. Wind and other renewable energy sources are now fully competitive in relation to other forms of energy.”

Combined effort: A long-term perspective and mutual trust are important for a good relationship between a bank and a customer. This is the case in the relationship between Vestas and DNB, represented here by, from the left: Sven Bakken and Øyvind Rustad from DNB and Marika Fredriksson and Hans Smith from Vestas.

Do renewables and oil/gas go hand in hand?

DNB’s work within renewable energy is largely about project financing. The bank has a leading position within lending to Norwegian and Nordic energy companies, as well as wind power projects, with a portfolio of some NOK 46 billion. DNB also finances water, solar and wind power projects worldwide, including in Europe, the United States, South America and Australia.

Not easy: “Part of the challenge of wind power is to build on a large enough scale to be able to operate effectively,” emphasises Bjørn Inge Pettersen, chief financial officer in Troms Kraft.

“We focus on renewables because we believe in this industry, which most of all needs predictability and a long-term perspective. It is challenging to make many justifiable investments when energy prices are low and the future of electricity certificates is uncertain,” says Berit Henriksen, head of DNB’s energy division. The division comprises both renewable energy, oil/gas and oil service providers.

“As a bank, we reflect the whole of Norway  and are a bank for several parts of the industry. Norway is an oil and gas nation, where DNB has built up a significant portfolio and strong expertise. Given that Norway has unique hydroelectric power resources, we have also developed in-depth expertise within renewable energy. Oil, gas and renewables will continue to coexist for a long time, and we will give long-term support to these sectors. The petroleum industry has also developed skills and expertise that are useful for offshore wind power, and we are seeing that more companies are also investing in renewables. In general, we expect significant growth in our renewable portfolio in the years to come,” concludes Henriksen.

Head for heights: The turbines, which are 125 metres tall and have 45-metre-long rotor blades, produce enough electricity annually to supply 7 000 households. They have done this since 2012, when the wind farm was completed and Troms Kraft could start operation.

Facts

DNB’s renewable commitment
  • DNB finances projects within wind, water and solar power, and the portfolio totalled more than NOK 46 billion in 2016.
  • Internationally, DNB finances renewable projects in Europe, the United States, South America and Australia. These are mainly water, wind and solar projects.
  • Hydroelectric power is the largest renewable energy source in Norway, which is also reflected in DNB’s renewable energy portfolio. Hydroelectric power accounts for 56 per cent, international wind parks 13 per cent and solar energy parks 7 per cent. The remaining exposure is primarily to international energy companies.