The operations at Markbygden Ett is currently the W3 Energy’s biggest undertaking. The wind farm outside Piteå in the northern parts of Sweden consists of 179 turbines. With a combined rated power of 650 MW, it is one of Europe’s largest land-based wind farms.
Chris MacMath is the general manager at Markbygden ETT. This is his view on the project and the collaboration with W3 Energy as asset managers.
First of all – which are your general requirements and expectations on an asset manager?
We always look for a competitive price and value in the delivery of service, but also what effect the services will bring in term of our key values. This includes active management and understanding of our assets and the ability to foresee any future problems. Then there are of course factors like good Health and Safety management and reporting with regards to our assets, as well as the ability to cooperate and a high level of customer engagement.
In your opinion, how well do you think W3 Energy meets those expectations?
Since Markbygden ETT is one of the largest land-based windfarms in Europe, we have many issues to tackle. Because W3 Energy were involved in the project very early, they can provide excellent pre-COD services and totally understand how to make the project run effectively. They know particular technical and contractual points that are coming through the construction face and potentially impact operations. For me, W3 Energy are doing a fantastic job with our assets.
W3 Energy offers both operational and commercial management. Which are the biggest benefits with this comprehensive solution?
For us as it is extremely important that we have a full operational and commercial package delivered as part of the contract scope. Since W3 Energy provide both aspects, there is connection between the teams straight away. Separating those two packages would be difficult to handle and it would create more workload for us, and it wouldn’t provide the same value.
W3 Energy are also developing a Health and Safety management system, that focuses on being proactive with inspecting and monitoring our site. This ensures that Health and Safety compliance is assured across the site and with all our contractors.
What is your view on W3 Energy’s inhouse experts?
Their technical side provide clinical reports on how our assets are effectively performing, what the risks are against our assets and how we can effectively improve on annual energy production. Again, this is key to true customer engagement and delivering service value. On the commercial side, W3 Energy are delivering absolute excellent in both pre-COD-services and understand clearly where our revenue is coming from and what risks there are against our revenues as well.
For you as an international developer and investor the local presence must be essential?
That is true. W3 Energy have local experts delivering the services, with full understanding of local regulations and statutory reporting legislations, how the lease-agreements works and issues with local landowners that may appear. And that is key to any success in windfarms.
What are your thoughts regarding cold climate solutions?
Markbygden ETT is located in an extremely challenging environment for windfarms. It’s not only the cold air and how it affects the turbine performances, but also how you manage the safety of the operators on site. Because W3 Energy are local to this environment and live in it every day, they understand the true risks and how to manage them safely.
W3 Energy also have excellent technical insight of how the turbine is performing compared to the contract characteristics, with full understanding about ice mitigation and measures that different turbine contractors may apply. They can guide us as a customer to know if the turbine is functioning as it should and otherwise suggests taking different measures.
What about the process of optimization?
As the windfarm develops during the next 4-5 years, W3 Energy will be reviewing the data and how the systems work on site to see how we can optimize and effectively improve on our energy production. They already have started that facility, but it’s a little bit like with an athlete where W3 Energy is there to coach the windfarm and by optimization getting the best out of it. They will nurture the windfarm and let it grow, and then see where we effectively can improve the performance. Hopefully it will turn out that our “athlete” has true talent.
How do you experience the customer care?
I can feel from their high level of customer engagement that they want to really understand what our needs are, but also supply solutions to our problems. Which is excellent for me as a customer since it makes my job easier. This is what it is all about. Understanding what the customer thinks and feel about the service delivery. They are taking in our opinion to see how they can mould their organisation to better serve our needs. In other words, exactly what you want with any contractor.
What about the fact that W3 Energy is an independent asset manager?
Being independent allows them to act fast, since they have all decisions close to themselves. Their core business is asset management and the customer engagement is impressive. I really feel that W3 Energy wants to be the best asset manager possible and their main objective is to improve production revenue for the customer.
How is W3 Energy in the roll as a speaking partner and consultant?
I believe some customers could be very relaxed about their assets and may not understand how to operate them. For this kind of true investors, you have to sit forward and deliver proactive measures and guide the customer through operational management.
We as a customer are experienced operators of assets ourselves, which makes it more of a two-way exchange and understanding of opinions. W3 Energy fully understands this and are adapting to our needs. At points they’ll provide suggestions and other times we ourselves come up with the suggestions. There is a positive relation between us as a customer and W3 Energy as our contractor that we want to maintain and take forward.
Chris MacMath general manager Markbygden ETT.