COPENHAGEN, June 28 (Reuters) - Wind turbine maker Vestas and offshore services firm Maersk Supply Service, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, are teaming up to tackle the cost of transporting and installing ever larger wind turbines.
The two companies said on Thursday the initial focus of the partnership would be on developing a new crane to manoeuvre and install turbines that are sometimes taller than skyscrapers.
The crane will be developed in cooperation with MHI Vestas, an offshore wind joint venture between Vestas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Bigger turbines are crucial as the offshore wind industry seeks to remain profitable after European countries phase out subsidies that have provided support since the 1990s.
Last year, MHI Vestas launched a 9.5 megawatts (MW) offshore turbine, currently the world's most powerful wind turbine, but bigger ones are expected in the future.
General Electric is working to develop a 12 MW turbine that will stand 260 metres (853 feet) tall.
"The challenge for the industry is that installation and logistics around the turbines become a greater share of the costs," Bo Svoldgaard, Vestas' head of innovation and concepts, told Reuters.
For Maersk Supply Service, the partnership could open up new revenue streams outside the struggling oil service industry at a time when the business is up for sale as part of Maersk's transformation from conglomerate to a focused shipping firm.
A prototype of the crane is expected in the fourth quarter next year, with production starting in two to three years, Svoldgaard said.
Both companies declined to comment on the size of investment into the new partnership.
Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Mark Potter