January 23, 2019 / 11:44 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Orsted says grid sale setback will not stop expansion

* Halt on sale of Danish grid, customer units no hindrance

* Taiwan deals on hold but new information due soon

* Progress in Japan in cooperation with incumbent Tepco

* Looking for partners for 1.14 GW German build to 2025 (Adds additional executive comments, context)

By Vera Eckert, Tom Käckenhoff and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A setback for Danish energy group Orsted's plans to sell its domestic power network and private customer businesses will not derail its global expansion drive, the company's head of offshore wind said on Wednesday.

Last week, majority state-owned Orsted said it would halt the sale after it became clear there was no longer political support in Denmark for the move.

"This does not have any bearing on our 200 billion Danish crowns ($30.4 billion) capital expenditure plan to 2025 and our renewable expansion target for 30 gigawatts (GW) to 2030," Martin Neubert told Reuters.

"The business is generally still for sale. There are better owners for this, that much remains clear," he said on the sidelines of the annual Handelsblatt energy conference in Berlin.

Denmark's Social Democrats want critical infrastructure to remain in state-controlled hands.

Orsted is the world's largest offshore wind developer, with 12 GW currently in operation and under construction.

Neubert said that while two major wind farm projects it was pursuing in Taiwan were on hold for now, the country remained committed to offshore wind.

"We will hear more about this within the next eight weeks," he said.

Taiwanese authorities have not issued permits for power purchase agreements (PPA) for the two wind farms that Orsted hopes will open doors to more work in Asia.

Neubert was also optimistic about prospects in Japan after Orsted last week signed a memorandum with the country's power market leader Tepco to work jointly on offshore projects, including Choshi near Tokyo.

"We will work out over the next few months how we can jointly handle planning, construction, operations and financing," Neubert said.

In November, Japan decided on a 10 GW target for offshore wind.

Tepco, with 30 million customers and more than 50 percent of the country's installed power plant capacity, is seeking to build in a 1.7 GW offshore zone, and views Orsted as a strong external partner, Neubert said.

As for Germany, he said there should be a consensus soon for how to expand offshore wind after 2025.

"We are falling behind comparable European markets such as Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands," said Neubert, a German national.

Meanwhile, the company was on the lookout for finance partners, customers and distributors for the 1.14 GW of approved capacity it will build in Germany up to 2024/2025.

$1 = 6.5730 Danish crowns Editing by Thomas Seythal and Mark Potter

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