February 1, 2018 / 7:57 AM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 2-Orsted looks beyond offshore wind to grow green portfolio

* Q4 operating profit beats expectations

* Expects 2018 EBITDA of 12-13 billion crowns

* Looking at onshore wind and storage - CEO (Adds detail, background, shares)

By Stine Jacobsen

COPENHAGEN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Danish energy group Orsted beat quarterly operating profit forecasts on Thursday thanks to a strong performance in its offshore wind business and said it planned to expand into onshore wind, solar power and energy storage.

The world’s largest offshore wind developer sold its oil and gas business to Ineos last year and is courting investors interested in green assets, which have received a boost from government policies aimed at protecting the environment.

Orsted, previously known as DONG Energy, has established a business to identify new investments in energy storage, solar projects, and onshore wind, it said.

The firm was previously involved in onshore wind, but sold the business in 2013 due to financial challenges.

“We have transformed the company into being an entirely green energy company and therefore we find it natural to now expand our portfolio of renewable technology,” Chief Executive Henrik Poulsen said.

Poulsen said the firm would be looking at buying onshore wind projects from smaller developers. On storage investments, he said they would be “relatively modest” this year.

Orsted’s shares were up 2.3 percent at 0940 GMT after it reported fourth-quarter operating profit (EBITDA) of 13.03 billion crowns, beating analysts’ average forecast of 12.06 billion in a Reuters poll.

The stock, whose listing in Copenhagen was one of the biggest in 2016 globally, is up around 40 percent since then.

This year, EBITDA from existing offshore wind partnership agreements is seen at 12-13 billion crowns, compared with 12.7 billion crowns last year.

The company also set a new target for operating profit growth from offshore wind farms in operation of 13-14 percent from 2017 to 2023.

COST CUTTING RACE

The wind power sector is at a critical juncture as subsidies that have underpinned the industry since the early 1990s disappear because politicians want to make it more commercially viable and able to compete with other energy sources.

That has made it increasingly important for developers to reduce costs.

Orsted said on Thursday capital expenditure (capex) per megawatt had fallen to 20 million crowns from 22-24 million crowns for the projects it had in its buildout portfolio at the time of its 2016 listing.

Cost reductions are being driven in particular by new technology, such as bigger turbines.

“Offshore wind can now be produced cheaper than power from new-builds of conventional coal- and gas-fired power stations,” Poulsen said.

Orsted developed the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991 and has built more than a quarter of the world’s wind farms at sea.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter

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