Mul­ti­con­sult, Nor­way’s 100 year old lead­ing en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy. firm is spread­ing its wings to Asia.

With more than 100 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, Mul­ti­con­sult is ar­guably Nor­way’s lead­ing en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - CHEYENNE HOL­LIS

The firm also has am­bi­tious in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion plans with its sub­sidiary, Mul­ti­con­sult Asia, lead­ing the charge in the re­gion. Mul­ti­con­sult is no stranger in Nor­way with nearly 30 of­fices and 3,000 em­ploy­ees. The en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign con­sul­tancy has been work­ing over­seas for 40 years, but it be­gan ramp­ing up its global pres­ence in 2013 as part of its 3-2-1 strate­gic vi­sion.

The firm es­tab­lished a sep­a­rate Asian sub­sidiary in March 2013 to as­sist with these ex­pan­sion plans. A Bangkok branch joined the Sin­ga­pore of­fice last year al­low­ing the firm to con­tinue the mo­men­tum. Re­new­able en­ergy is among the com­pany’s pri­mary fo­cuses as Mul­ti­con­sult looks to bring its ex­per­tise and knowl­edge to South­east Asia.

“The rapid cli­mate change glob­ally has cre­ated a fo­cus and high de­mand for sus­tain­able so­lu­tions when it comes to en­ergy, wa­ter and the en­vi­ron­ment. This is why our fo­cus in Asia is on these dis­ci­plines,” Mr Erik Berger, Sales Man­ager Asia for Mul­ti­con­sult, said.

Fuel, oil and coal power plants are preva­lent in South­east Asia at the mo­ment. How­ever, these are harm­ful for the en­vi­ron­ment and are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ex­pen­sive to op­er­ate. This has led gov­ern­ments in Asia to ac­tively look at re­new­able al­ter­na­tives, a field Mul­ti­con­sult knows very well.

“Nor­way is one of the very few coun­tries in the world run­ning on 100 per­cent re­new­able en­ergy. What’s more, we’ve done this for more than a cen­tury,” Mr Berger de­tailed. “Mul­ti­con­sult has a unique com­pe­tence and ex­pe­ri­ence in the de­vel­op­ment of clean en­ergy projects hav­ing been work­ing in Nor­way all this time.”

In 2016, the com­pany up­dated the 3-2-1 strate­gic vi­sion hav­ing hit most of its tar­gets. The 3-2-1 GO strat­egy was rolled out and with it came a greater em­pha­sis on its re­new­able en­ergy in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion ef­forts.

“Our long term goal is to in­crease our pres­ence and mar­ket share in the re­gion. We hope to this sig­nif­i­cantly over the next three to five years,” Mr Berger pointed out. “We aim to be one of the lead­ing ac­tors when it comes to de­liv­er­ing sus­tain­able con­sul­tancy ser­vices for re­new­able en­ergy projects in Asia.”

Of course, Mul­ti­con­sult is not only fo­cused on re­new­able en­ergy. Mr Berger noted the firm is skilled in many dis­ci­plines and hopes to share its ex­per­tise in these fields as well.

“An­other area where we want to con­trib­ute is wa­ter re­source man­age­ment. Cli­mate change has brought a lot of is­sues re­lated to en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ters and wa­ter re­source man­age­ment. We have a large team of cli­mate change spe­cial­ists who can con­trib­ute knowl­edge to im­prov­ing this area in Asia,” Mr Berger stated. “This is some­thing that is very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially in this re­gion. Manag­ing dis­as­ters and mit­i­gat­ing flood risks is some­thing many South­east Asian coun­tries need to con­sider.”

Build­ing a brand Ac­cord­ing to Mr Berger, the main chal­lenge Mul­ti­con­sult faces in South­east Asia is build­ing its brand and be­com­ing a well-known and trusted com­pany. In or­der to ac­com­plish this, the com­pany is work­ing closely with in­ter­na­tional banks, donor or­gan­i­sa­tions, em­bassies and cham­bers of com­merce in the re­gion. The goal is to prove it can de­liver the best pos­si­ble re­sults.

“We are vis­it­ing with a lot of clients

and po­ten­tial clients while par­tic­i­pat­ing in im­por­tant con­fer­ences and sum­mits around the re­gion,” Mr Berger re­ported. “We are con­fi­dent that build­ing up a solid brand known for high-qual­ity work and sus­tain­able, in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions will help us in­crease our pres­ence lo­cally. We are gain­ing trac­tion in the re­gion and win­ning more projects.”

Mul­ti­con­sult pri­mar­ily works with lo­cal clients such as the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, SN Power, lo­cal gov­ern­ments, the Mekong River Com­mis­sion and in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers. The com­pany also serves Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies with a pres­ence in Asia from time to time, but the main fo­cus is on lo­cal en­ti­ties.

“We are work­ing on a num­ber of hy­dropower projects in Laos as well as Malaysia and Pa­pua New Guinea. We are also do­ing a study on the Mekong River Basin de­vel­op­ment.” Mr Berger de­tailed. “Mul­ti­con­sult has other projects in Myan­mar, Pak­istan, Nepal and Malaysia. The com­pany is now fo­cus­ing on the Philip­pines, Viet­nam, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Thai­land and the Pa­cific Is­lands.”

Mr Berger be­lieves the key for Mul­ti­con­sult in South­east Asia is show­ing peo­ple how they are dif­fer­ent. While the firm is known for its in­dus­try lead­ing work in Nor­way, it needs to show its ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the re­gion in or­der to gain fur­ther trust.

“At Mul­ti­con­sult, we lever­age our in-house team who are skilled and ex­perts in their re­spec­tive fields. We com­bine our deep knowl­edge with state-of-theart tech­nol­ogy and tools to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble so­lu­tions,” Mr Berger said. “For ex­am­ple, we have opened power plants that are com­pletely pa­per­less. The project does not need any pa­per since ev­ery­thing can be recorded dig­i­tally.“

Per­haps the great­est dis­tinc­tion be­tween Mul­ti­con­sult and other com­pa­nies is its abil­ity to carry a project from the ini­tial stage of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and sur­veys to de­sign and con­struc­tion and through to com­ple­tion. And since Mul­ti­con­sult ex­perts are all in-house staff, they are not re­liant on free­lancers who can some­times be un­re­li­able.

“An­other thing peo­ple re­alise when work­ing with us is our com­mit­ment to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. We aim to be the in­dus­try leader at meet­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions,” Mr Berger said. “One of our top pri­or­i­ties is to have a rep­u­ta­tion for achiev­ing cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. We are con­fi­dent that clients in South­east Asia will see this when they work with Mul­ti­con­sult. We may be new to the re­gion, but as a com­pany we have a proven track record.” Re­gional re­new­ables Hy­dropower is ex­pected to play a ma­jor role in the en­ergy sec­tor in most South­east Asian coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to Mr Berger. He added mar­ket trends and gov­ern­men­tal power de­vel­op­ment plans show very am­bi­tious goals re­gard­ing the de­vel­op­ment of hy­dropower in the re­gion dur­ing the next decade with most coun­tries set to be in­volved in one form or an­other.

Of course, hy­dropower is not the only re­new­able en­ergy source avail­able in South­east Asia. Wind and so­lar en­ergy may not yet be ac­cepted like hy­dropower is in the re­gion, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for it.

“There is a lot of dis­cus­sion on what the best pos­si­ble so­lu­tion re­gard­ing re­new­able en­ergy in South­east Asia. Hy­dropower has had a lot of suc­cess. Small-scale hy­dro is also a source that has be­come more pop­u­lar,” Mr Berger said. “In terms of po­ten­tial, off­shore wind is a source that could greatly ben­e­fit the re­gion. The same can be said for float­ing so­lar and other re­new­able en­ergy sources.”

He con­tin­ues, “The key is to be open minded when it comes to new so­lu­tions. Most coun­tries want re­new­able en­ergy so­lu­tions and they al­ready un­der­stand the ben­e­fits of them. How­ever, it is im­por­tant to be flex­i­ble since what works best in one lo­ca­tion may not al­ways be as ef­fec­tive some­where else.”

Re­new­able en­ergy will have a pos­i­tive im­pact in Asia mov­ing for­ward, but it will also bring out new is­sues that are go­ing to need to be ad­dressed.

“While there is a lot of po­ten­tial for wind, so­lar and hy­brid en­ergy projects in the re­gion, there are also chal­lenges that come along with it. As more re­new­able en­ergy comes onto power grids, there will be a need for stor­age projects,” Mr Berger noted. “Projects such as pump stor­age will be nec­es­sary to sta­bilise the en­ergy grid. There is also a huge po­ten­tial for in­ter­con­nec­tion be­tween the var­i­ous na­tional grids in Asia with a com­mon grid for the trade of power a fu­ture pos­si­bil­ity.”

Be­fore that be­comes a re­al­ity, grid in­fra­struc­ture will need to be ad­dressed by in­di­vid­ual coun­tries. In some cases, this cre­ates a chicken and the egg sce­nario. The is­sue is some­thing the firm, which has de­vel­oped a deep un­der­stand­ing of power trans­mis­sion and distri­bu­tion, is see­ing first hand.

“Some­times it is a ques­tion of what comes first. Do you fo­cus on im­prov­ing the grid in­fra­struc­ture and then build the re­new­able en­ergy projects or do you get the re­new­able en­ergy on­line and then put ef­forts into get­ting the grid up to speed? It is a ques­tion that will need to be an­swered,” Mr Berger ex­plained.



Above left: Mul­ti­con­sult is work­ing on sev­eral hy­dropower projects in Laos. Above: In ad­di­tion to re­new­able en­ergy, the com­pany is also tak­ing on wa­ter re­source man­age­ment projects in Asia

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