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Business Implications of Sustainability and Competitiveness in the Renewable Energy Sector in the Case of VESTAS Wind System.

Vestas, a Danish company whose beginnings can be traced back to a blacksmith’s workshop founded in 1898, has become “the world market leader in wind turbine manufacturing. Between 1994 and 2001, Vestas’s sales have increased more than tenfold, and the number of employees increased from 643 to 5,240. While its main contribution to sustainability may be seen as increasing the market share of wind energy, thus reducing the environmental impacts of electricity generation, the company has also become a leader in terms of internal environmental management and social sustainability. Until about a year ago, the company was also a phenomenal success story in financial terms, with a share price that would have provided investors participating in the 1998 IPO with a 778% return over a four-year period. Recent industry developments, however, are more challenging for Vestas, and it remains to be seen whether the company can take its success story to the next level. This paper presents key milestones in the company’s development from niche to mass market and analyses success factors in the relationship between Vestas’s sustainability performance and business competitiveness.

Vestas’s history: from niche to mass market
1898-1978: the early days of Vestas the roots of Vestas date back to the end of the 19th century, when blacksmith H.S. Hansen opened his first workshop at Lem, Denmark.1 According to Vestas’s history, Smith Hansen had a reputation for creating many ideas and showing fearless initiative, inspiring many of his colleagues at the time to start their own businesses and thus contributing to the emergence of an important centre for the blacksmith’s craft at Lem. It was not until 30 years later that H.S. Hansen and his son, Peder…...

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