“We have been partnering with Clean Power Africa almost since the beginning. It has always provided us with an opportunity to share our expertise with current and potential clients.”
Exclusive interview with Technical Director Bertrand Rochecouste Collet and Business Development Manager for Energy Pieter Conradie at Aurecon – silver sponsors at Clean Power Africa. Aurecon will present a paper and several technical workshops on renewables during the event.
Bertrand: It is exciting that Aurecon is playing a lead role on numerous renewable energy projects in South Africa and across other parts of Africa. Construction is starting next month on the Stortemelk hydro project in South Africa whilst the construction of the Kashimbila Dam and 40 MW Hydropower Station in Nigeria is nearing completion. We’ve just been appointed for two hydropower feasibility studies in Uganda and in Kenya and we’re looking forward to helping our clients with identifying and assessing potential sites. Aurecon is also Owner’s Engineer for several wind farm projects in South Africa where we are helping to ensure that the projects are delivered on time, within budget and meet the expected level of reliability for long-term operation.
Pieter: It is also great to be able to contribute to the development of new or the refurbishment of existing infrastructure in the power transmission and distribution sector. We are currently undertaking an IPP Advisory role with the Department of Energy and we are working closely with them on the Approach to Distribution Asset Management (ADAM) project. We are also assisting our clients with various upgrades including the Lusaka power system for ZESCO and the Maputo Distribution system for EDM.
What makes Aurecon competitive in this market?
Bertrand: Our technical knowledge and our knowledge of local conditions set us apart. Our clients benefit from our technical expertise and advisory services in wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy technologies. Also the fact that one firm, let alone most of the time one single office can provide all services needed by the client on their project.
Pieter: I agree – our strengths are our African based resources and diversity of skills.
What do you see as the major challenges in the utility sphere?
Bertrand: The key challenges for renewable energy are the shortage of skills and expertise and the lack of capital to fund infrastructure.
Pieter: On top of that, growth in demand is outstripping supply across Africa. Another challenge for the industry is the effective application of technology such as smart systems.
What is your vision for the energy industry?
Bertrand: There are significant opportunities for renewable energy (hydro, wind, solar) developments in Africa and it is important that we get these projects off the ground quickly through affordable, responsible and sustainable solutions.
Pieter: I would like to see affordable energy for all facilitated by liberated and privatised energy markets.
What do you see as the main challenges to incorporating renewable energy into mainstream society?
Bertrand: All forms of renewables come with their challenges. The main one is that no one wants to see it in their backyard, but generally speaking, I believe renewable energy is now widely accepted by society.
Pieter: We need to liberate the market in order to create as much competition as possible in order to drive energy prices down. The free market and mainstream society will embrace renewable energy if it comes at the right price and if they realise that distributed generation will enhance reliability.
What opportunities do you see in South Africa/Africa?
Bertrand: In both South Africa and Africa we see a lot of potential for renewable energy. The solar market in Africa has not been tapped. We must remember that Africa contains some of the sunniest countries on Earth. There are very few solar plants in South Africa. I see huge potential for hydro in Eastern and Western Africa.
Pieter: Most African economies are growing at a >5% rate per annum and if you combine this with rapid urbanisation and low connection rates on average, it is a recipe for huge growth in the sector.
Why did you decide to partner with Clean Power Africa and African Utility Week?
Bertrand: We have been partnering with Clean Power Africa almost since the beginning. This is the fifth year we are sponsoring the event. It has always provided us with an opportunity to share our expertise with current and potential clients. It provides a good platform to discuss issues, solutions and a general meet and greet.
Pieter: It is a well organised and well publicised event, which attracts all the main role players in the market.
What will be your specific message at the event?
Bertrand: Aurecon has over 80 years of experience in Africa. We have learned from that experience. We are focussed on building relationships with clients and delivering projects together.
Pieter: Aurecon provides comprehensive consultancy services to project developers, contractors, asset owners and lenders over the entire power generation project life cycle. We also have extensive experience in all aspects of operations, asset management and delivery in the transmission and distribution sectors.
What are you most looking forward to at AUW and CPA?
Bertrand: I am looking forward to meeting new and potential clients and discussing potential issues and challenges that clients may have.
Pieter: I am also most looking forward to meeting people. Aurecon has a client centric business model that focusses on building strong relationships with our clients.