Unlike most emerging markets,
Brazil’s energy sector is largely
based on hydropower, accounting for roughly 80 percent of the
country’s generating capacity,
according to the EIA. “The challenge now is how to shift from
heavy reliance on hydro to more
consistently reliable sources of
power,” Mr. Gerbert says.
But as the country copes
with a recession, energy portfolio diversification seems far off.
Indeed, a giant hydro project
is moving toward completion:
The BRL30 billion Belo Monte
hydroelectric dam will be the
power plant in the world when
it starts operating in 2019.
With a very high electrification rate, China is now
focusing on diversifying its
energy portfolio away from
fossil fuels. “Its biggest issue
continues to be a heavy
reliance on coal,” Mr. Gerbert
says, which has led to urban
air pollution problems.
The country is making
project investments in hydroelectric sources and other
renewables. According to a
report by GlobalData, renew-able energy sources in China
are expected to provide 20
percent of the country’s
total electricity generated
Renovating and extending energy infrastructure is the country’s top priority.
“Even if people have access to a power
network, it often doesn’t work,” says
Also on the agenda: installing cleaner
technologies to reduce the country’s
notorious pollution levels. But that will
require power plant owners to launch
major upgrades or new-build projects
to replace the mostly coal-based current infrastructure.
The government plans to increase the
country’s solar power generating capacity fivefold—if it can obtain the necessary land and transmission lines. Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has struggled with land acquisition
issues while working with five state
governments to build 25 solar parks.
The country’s energy infrastructure is predominantly
coal-based and saddled with
outdated systems unable to
meet rising demand. Recent energy reforms opening opportunities for investment by private
firms, however, are expected to
spur growth of generation and
“There’s a lot of momentum
around energy infrastructure
investment in Mexico right
now,” says Bjarne Steffen, project leader, Boston Consulting
Group, Munich, Germany. “The
question is whether they can
keep investment in these projects coming in to encourage the
renewal of aging infrastructure.”
issues, says John Gustke, managing director of energy business in Asia, Black &
Veatch, Bangkok, Thailand. Black & Veatch is a global engineering, consulting
and construction company.
To avoid these challenges, the company focuses on grooming local talent to
eventually take charge.
“When we bring in senior experts from the U.S., we hire local people to work
with them, rotating into different roles on-site and in the office so they can learn
the skills they need to manage projects themselves,” Mr. Gustke says. Visiting
experts focus specifically on training local talent about scheduling, cost controls
and risk management.
Recognizing its talent gap, Eskom is using the delayed coal power plant
projects as an opportunity to catalyze change. The company recruited Mr.
Mushimba to help standardize its project management practices. And one of
the first steps he’s taking is developing more realistic project schedules that
account for training time and leave some wiggle room for team errors. “You
have to incorporate that into the schedule up front and make sure stakeholders
understand why you need that extra time,” he says.
Mr. Mushimba is also building a formal project management process and
documentation to be used by project practitioners across the organization,
and implementing training programs for workers focused on skills essential to
power plant projects. “Overcoming the learning curve,” he says, “can reduce the
risk of errors and eventually shorten project schedules.”
SCOUTING FOR LOCAL TALEN T
Black & Veatch has been putting its local talent incubator strategy to work in
China for more than a decade. With its explosive economic growth, the country
has huge demand for energy projects. Yet it remains a particularly difficult place
“When we bring in senior
experts from the U.S., we
hire local people to work
with them, rotating into
different roles on-site
and in the office so they
can learn the skills they
need to manage projects
—John Gustke, Black & Veatch, Bangkok, Thailand