energy and power

Relentless evolution helps Aggreko bridge the energy gap for mines

Matt Parker, managing director of AMEA at Aggreko, explains why the company is constantly transforming to ensure it can meet the changing energy needs of its customers

The backdrop of the recently held Investing in African Mining Indaba provided a fitting setting as Parker sat down with African Review to discuss his company’s role in the continent’s dynamic energy landscape. This topic was largely the elephant in the room in Cape Town, with load shedding remaining a persistent thorn in the side of the host nation’s businesses and inhabitants and one that is also leaving a mark on neighbouring countries as well. As a leading provider of industrial energy solutions, such an environment breeds opportunity, and this was the first point posed to Parker who responded that, first and foremost, his company’s thoughts are with the population.“It is a tough environment,” he remarked. “We have got a huge amount of sympathy for the people of South Africa and beyond who are suffering hardship because of some underinvestment in infrastructure (predominantly). So, before discussing what it means to us, it is important to recognise this aspect.

“That being said, it is an opportunity. While this may sound callous, really it is indicating that we have the solutions to the predicaments businesses find themselves in. We are in an unusual position in that we are an energy solutions provider – by which I mean a complex and large-scale provider of both renewable and thermal energy – one that is flexible and modular in nature. This is a big spectrum of offerings which enables us to move, on the one hand, at extreme pace to meet emergency needs but also to address the long-term structural issues for customers who want to divorce themselves from grid reliance totally.

The energy equilibriumMatt Parker Aggreko

Aggreko seeks to swiftly ascertain a customer’s priorities when it comes to the trio of energy security, equity and environmental sustainability, and prides itself on providing the best solution to meet these.

“Some people care enormously about the environment and they care about Aggreko’s environmental impact, not just what we can do for them,” Parker surmised. “This relates to what Aggreko is doing in the ESG space (not just environmental sustainability), how we behave as an employer and how we operate our own assets. Here, we are making some pretty big promises, like being Net Zero by 2035 on our Scope One and Two emissions. On Scope Three – what we do for our customers – we are looking to reduce our carbon intensity by 30% by 2030.

“Coming up to the other two pillars of this trilemma. For some people, environmental sustainability is less important than cost, so it is imperative to understand where that balance lies for them. The eventual solution we come up with – which is always bespoke – is tailored to the needs of the customer and we can focus it on minimising total cost. Finally, for energy critical markets such as mines, security and resilience is and this is something we really major in; helping to preserve their processes and operating model by ensuring energy resilience.”

Experts in energy

Parker was keen to emphasise that it does not matter how far along an organisation is on its energy journey, Aggreko is happy to come in and provide its expertise and solutions to pick up the pace.

“This is the wonderful thing about having solutions that are very modular based on an existing fleet where we can just bring the kit in and supplement what is already there,” Parked expressed. “This has been a fairly traditional model for Aggreko and has made it well known for its gas, diesel, batteries and to a certain extent solar (now we have modularised solar capability that is infinitely adaptable to what the customer already has). Ally that with the other end of the scale – completely bespoke, purchased equipment designed and built for a particular opportunity over a number of years – and you have a range of options there. It is through this flexibility in contracting technology and the way we finance that Aggreko stands out in the marketplace.”

But there are two sides to this coin with this level of flexibility also making it relatively daunting for customers and hard to understand what option is the right one for their needs. “That is why we portray and see ourselves not just as providers but energy consultants. We strive to sit down with customers, understand their problems, identify the best solutions that make sense within the energy trilemma and their priorities, and then match the exact needs. This could be a really quick deployment at a cost, or it might be a three-year planning process with significant procurement in between. We can handle that whole engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) side for them and we can further own that equipment and provide operations & management (O&M) after we commission it, or we even action a Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) model. We want customers who have difficult problems that they are unable to solve on their own and we want to partner with them as energy experts to help them.”

The drive to fulfil this philosophy is pushing the company to a state of constant evolution, to ensure it is able to support its customer whatever the need and wherever it is required. A recent tangible example of this can be found in the acquisition of South-African based RenEnergy at the beginning of 2024. RenEnergy has established a name for itself through its innovative commercial and industrial solar energy generation and storage solutions, and these assets have become the latest strings added to Aggreko’s celebrated bow.

Such actions are indicative of Aggreko’s drive to direct its own development, in line with that of its customers. “We are an inquisitive organisation,” Parker stated, providing his concluding thoughts. “We have funds put at disposal for sensible investment in primarily energy transition-focused acquisition targets. This is a big part of our strategy: to find companies that we can add value to in order to deliver more benefit for our customers. Acquisitions such as that of RenEnergy is one pillar of how we are evolving, with the other being the development of our own in-house engineering capability. It is our constant adaption to the moving needs of the market that really sets us apart from the competition.”

An overhead shot of a vast mining quarry.

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