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.
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