Donald Trump expends a lot of energy complaining about renewable wind power. The US president has called wind farms ugly, unreliable and has linked the noise they make to cancer. He should save his breath. Renewable energy in the US has far too much momentum to be halted by barbed quips. Wind power already accounted for nearly 7 per cent of all US electricity generation last year, according to the US Energy Information Agency. The next phase of growth will come from offshore wind farms. That is good news for Danish wind farm specialist Orsted. Formerly known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas, the group has shed much of its fossil fuels related businesses in recent years. It focuses on financing and building ever larger wind turbine arrays. Its next growth area is the nascent US offshore market. After buying Deepwater Wind, a US offshore wind developer, last year it has won new contracts. Most recently, New Jersey selected Orsted to develop a 1,100 megawatt offshore project — enough to power half a million homes. This follows another even larger Orsted-partnered project off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, due to begin operations in the next five years. There will be more to come. Although US installed wind generation capacity has grown at a compound annual rate of over 9 per cent since 2013, almost all of that sits onshore. Texas is one of the largest wind generators. Offshore projects could dot the waters on both of America’s coasts in the decades ahead — potentially providing another 2,000 gigawatts (2m megawatts), according to the US Department of Energy.
Partly because of its expansion and partly due to the scarcity of rivals in pure offshore wind power, Orsted’s valuation has soared over the past year. Its enterprise value to forward ebitda is 14 times, half again as much as rival EDP Renováveis, which has a similar portfolio. Increasingly oil companies with stronger balance sheets, such as Norway’s Equinor and Shell Energy, part of Royal Dutch Shell, have begun to compete in offshore tenders. All lost out to Orsted on the New Jersey project. They should not be discouraged. Losing one contract will not come as such as a blow given the size of potential deals from US offshore wind in the years to come.