Telemenia – Remote Possibilities
Telemenia brings power to places others can’t reach.
“We don’t say no to any type of challenge,” says Amir Kurz, Deputy CEO of Telemenia. “We are creative in finding solutions, and with our experience from an operations and maintenance perspective, we know how to build the best solution for our client.”
Telemenia is the lead company of the FK Group, a group of companies that have been working on energy projects since 1990. The FK Group is a family-owned business with vast experience in carrying out energy projects in all kinds of situations and locations. Its projects range from simple diesel generators and temporary power plants that can be built in a very short period, going all the way to permanent power plants running on natural gas, HFO, DDO and even biogas. Through its subsidiaries, FK Group also provides a wide array of services in the field of energy and infrastructure worldwide, including EPC and O&M services for Solar Power Plants (through Inbar Solar Energy), Energy Supply (Various IPP projects and a dedicated supplier’s licence owned and held by AUA Energy), EPC substations and HV transmission lines, as well as EPC and O&M services for dedicated microgrid projects which incorporate energy storage and photovoltaics with Telemenia’s speciality – high efficiency and low emissions cogeneration and trigeneration power plants.
“We specialize in projects in remote areas and challenging locations. We do that with a very good track record for quality, timely completion, high availability and high efficiency,” explains Kurz. “Our projects are completed with satisfied clients who frequently go on to do other projects with us.”
Telemenia’s trademark is to provide facilities that are economical and provide a good return on investment. The company is able to be involved in each project’s development, licensing, permitting, construction, commissioning, as well as its operation and maintenance.
“We provide after-sales technical support and guidance to the local team that will run the facility and provide full O&M solutions as needed,” Kurz says.
The other thing that defines a great deal of Telemenia’s work is the remote locations its projects are executed in. Perhaps the most remote location the company has worked in so far is the city of Iquitos, on the Amazon in Peru. The largest isolated city in the world, Iquitos has no road connections-, and it can be reached only by river or by air.
“The logistical challenges with regards to construction were high, but we gladly took on the challenge and transported the main equipment required for the Iquitos 80MW power plant (Approx. 1,400 Tons) through the ever-changing Amazon River, on dedicated barges, through timing the Tide and other crucial variables,” says Kurz.
The end result is one of the few energy projects in Peru to be delivered on time and with no delays.
“It was a very challenging project,” Kurz admits. “We had a similar experience in Burkina Faso when we built there a 50MW power plant. We had to reinforce bridges and fix roads, and all of that was done without one day of delay.”
Of course, there is a reason why on-time delivery is so important to Telemenia.
“When you speak about energy projects, on-time delivery is extremely important to reduce the cost of temporary solutions which have higher fuel consumption and are more expensive,” Kurz insists. “The availability of the grid and the energy system relies on the delivery of projects on time. So, we make sure our clients will have the facility linked to their master plan for energy in the region.”
Of course, when your trademark is doing technical work in hard-to-reach places, you need strong incentives to attract that necessary talent.
“It is very challenging to find people with the necessary experience and background, but we’ve been in this market for more than 30 years, developing good relationships with human resource companies that provide great candidates,” Kurz tells us. “We have good connections to engineers leaving the marine industry, which is similar to the power plant sector. We establish an ecosystem, with tools such as “friends bringing in friends,” which is a good tool for bringing in people who know this sector and don’t have any problem working remotely. Additionally, we are also internationally diverse, as our team members come from many different countries and cultures.”
Once that talent is brought in, the challenge is to keep it, creating the right conditions to make them feel at home, no matter how far away from home they are. Telemenia also offers them space to grow.
“We provide development by sending them to courses increasing their abilities, their engineering skills, and bringing them to a higher professional level,” says Kurz. “Obviously, the human touch is essential. We know everyone by name, we speak with them and make sure everyone is comfortable. Motivation is very important for us. People see that we maintain a good relationship with the client, we create a good environment to work in, and our employees feel comfortable here.”
Value for Money
Right now, it seems that everyone is running on a tight budget, particularly when it comes to public works. However, Kurz makes the case for the lifetime cost of Telemenia’s projects.
“We see our competitors trying to reduce the cost of the CapEx when they are making their offers, and we believe that at the end of the day it always comes at the expense of something else, usually the quality of the product,” Kurz says simply. “We believe that you sometimes have to increase the CapEx a bit, but as a result – reduce operational costs. You will suffer less from unexpected events or mechanical failures. You will guarantee higher availability and make sure you have the best efficiency you can get from the power plant.”
Kurz argues that maintaining a power plant that will operate as the client expected in its financial model and guarantee a faster return on investment, is something that Telemenia has the experience, and the abilities to provide.
“Quality international suppliers aren’t something you can find without experience,” Kurz points out. “We know how to get competitive prices from our suppliers, but even if they’re cheap it will not impact the quality of the product for the end client. As prices increase and there is strong competition, it is important to have a long-standing relationship with a partner that will provide the solution you need. This is something that makes Telemenia special. Our numbers speak for themselves.”
Kurz is not wrong. There are power plants Telemenia has built that have been in operation since 2013, averaging more than 99% availability, a very special achievement in this market.
“In Iquitos, which is being rated annually by the credit rating agency Fitch Rating, we’re providing 100% of the power for their isolated grid, with approximately 99% availability, which is very uncommon in today’s energy market,” Kurz says.
Telemenia has some impressive achievements behind it, but Kurz believes the best is yet to come.
“What we are doing today is making sure that the Group capabilities combine through synergy, all in order to provide the best, most innovative and modern solutions for our clients. When we’re speaking about modern solutions, we mean we want to combine the ability to offer a power plant to a client with the ability to make it a hybrid power plant,” Kurz says. “We integrate energy storage solutions, renewable energy solutions and “conventional,” low emission and high-efficiency solutions, all in order to create micro-grids and hybrid power plants which will deliver the optimal energy solution to our clients, based on their requirements and actual needs. We’re making sure our product will be relevant to the direction the industry is going at. As we’re going towards a zero-carbon emissions economy and want to reduce the carbon footprint, we make sure not only that we’re suitable and aligned to that target, but that we are at the spearhead of this process.”
Kurz recognises the limits of current technology, but he is also keen to push those limits.
“Today’s technology can’t allow an energy network based 100% on renewables. You need a traditional powerplant as a backup. Nonetheless, there is a lot that can be done to make it more efficient with fewer pollutants,” he says. “You need the storage and as many renewable components as possible (and economically sound) to minimize carbon footprint, which is what we are all aiming for. We are currently developing special skills and expertise required to make sure our solutions are highly efficient and environmentally friendly hybrid solutions.”