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Members' interviews

Interview with Alessandro Panico, Sales Team Manager – Offshore Wind, Prysmian Group

Can you tell our readers a little about your organisation?

Prysmian Group is a world leader in the energy and telecom cable systems industry. With nearly 140 years of experience, sales of over €7.5 billion in 2016, 21,000 employees across 50 countries and 82 plants, the Group is strongly positioned in high-tech markets and offers the widest possible range of products, services, technologies and know-how.
It operates in the businesses of underground and submarine cables and systems for power transmission and distribution, of special cables for applications in many different industries and of medium and low voltage cables for the construction and infrastructure sectors.
For the telecommunications industry, the Group manufactures cables and accessories for voice, video and data transmission, offering a comprehensive range of optical fibres, optical and copper cables and connectivity systems.
Prysmian is also a public company, listed on the Italian Stock Exchange in the FTSE MIB index.

The Group develops the most advanced “turnkey” submarine cable systems through Prysmian Powerlink S.r.l. These systems include installations down to a depth of 2,000 metres laid using the Giulio Verne cable-laying vessel, one of the largest and most technologically advanced ships in the world. Prysmian also offers cutting-edge services for constructing submarine energy connections for offshore wind farms, ranging from project management to cable installation, using the Cable Enterprise cable-laying vessel and the barge Ulisse.

The Company can count on a global footprint, with 3 plants dedicated to submarine cables production (Pikkala in Finland, Drammen in Norway, Arco Felice in Italy and in April we announced that we are expanding our Wrexham production facility in UK) and several offices in the world (Europe, the U.S.A., the Far East and the Middle East).
Prysmian has a long-standing leadership and expertise in providing solutions to this sector, being a strategic business partner for the biggest TSO companies involved in the development of the offshore industry (e.g., Tennet, 50 Hz, RTE), as well as the most important developers (e.g., the Wikinger project) and reputable contractors such as Geosea/Tideway, Boskalis/VBMS and Van Oord (e.g., Rentel, Merkur, Horns Rev3 and Norther inter-array project).

The Wikinger Project is one of our milestones. Iberdrola Renovables Offshore Deutschland GmbH awarded Prysmian a contract to supply and install the inter-array cables within the wind farm. Prysmian is responsible for the design, manufacture, installation, burial, termination and testing of 80km of 33kV submarine cables with different cross-sections to connect the 70 wind turbines and the offshore substation that form the 350MW wind farm. This is a great example of how we are heavily investing in developing our project execution and cable installation capabilities.

What are the most exciting developments you have seen in the wind industry?

As the worldwide leader in the submarine cable industry, we are investing considerable resources in the offshore wind farms sector, particularly in light of recent trends confirming this technology as commercially viable and sustainable in the very near future.

If we look back to only 5 years ago, there have been impressive developments in all relevant sectors – from the turbines, foundations and installation up to the cables – and this is of course incredibly exciting for a company like Prysmian, always devoted to the highest level of innovation.

The very recent results of the German auctions in April of this year are only a further confirmation of this process.

What changes would you like to see in the wind energy industry?

As a key industry partner in the wind energy industry, we are constantly committed to providing the market with cost-effective and innovative solutions to sustain the wind power industry in the future. On the other hand, we still see a lot of uncertainty from a regulatory perspective within the EU, and this is putting the entire supply chain at risk.
It is necessary to take concrete steps towards a more stable regulatory framework and its harmonisation within the European countries, ideally moving towards a European common strategy for the development of offshore wind energy. In our opinion, this is the only way to guarantee an adequate number of projects in the next 10 to 15 years and thus develop the technology towards a fully subsidies-free scheme.

Going forward, what role do you see your organisation playing in the future development of wind energy?

We have been pioneers in the offshore wind industry as a provider of submarine cables and services for many years, but we do not want to simply rely upon what we have (successfully) been up to now. Indeed, we are strengthening our strategy in the offshore wind industry for the coming years, which will be based on very simple but effective concepts through which we believe to add value for our customers:

  • We aim to be the only Total System Provider for cable services in the offshore wind industry, capable of leading the entire cable supply chain in all the market segments, from DC/AC export cables up to inter-array systems, including installation and burial services. In the past 5 years, we invested more than €200 million in adding capacity and capabilities to both cable manufacturing (investment in Pikkala plant, Finland) and installation (Cable Enterprise and Ulisse), and we are investigating further opportunities for investments both through organic growth or M&As;
  • We also wish to be the most solid partner in the cable industry, a full public company with the highest standards in terms of ethics, corporate governance and stakeholder satisfaction;
  • We commit to having an unbeatable worldwide presence and industrial footprint to serve the global and local markets (we have recently added offshore cable capabilities to our UK plant in Wrexham for the next generation of UK and European offshore wind farms. We will be the submarine cable manufacturer with the highest level of local content in the UK).

How has WindEurope membership benefited your organisation?

WindEurope has given us the possibility of becoming actual partners of the wide and complex supply chain of the offshore wind industry, as we are able to interface with the other major players which, while not necessarily related to the cable business, are extremely important if you look at the interrelations within the complexity of a wind park.
In addition, WindEurope is our voice in dealings with the EU in Brussels, constantly reinforcing the message of the right development of a proper regulatory framework in Europe.

If we look ten years ahead, what do you hope to have achieved?

As an international Group, we really hope to see a constant and sustainable pace of developments in the offshore wind industry in Europe, which we are confident will occur.
This step ahead would be a very important achievement to allow industry players — such as Prysmian — to properly plan their organisation and thereby sustain the business.


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