Building a robust, international VEO
The Power Distribution unit can look back at an exceptionally good year. Not only did the business unit significantly exceed its sales budget by landing several of the largest wind energy deals in VEO’s history – but it also successfully integrated the Swedish company TT360 into the VEO Group.
Operators on the Power Distribution unit’s market are not overly sensitive to economic fluctuations, explaining why the business unit has been spared the most severe covid-related impacts. Large wind energy investments are made regardless of pandemics – and VEO has stepped into large enough shoes to win the distribution deals.
Winning the deals that count
“Grid operators and renewable energy investors across Europe have started acknowledging us. With our proven cost and time-efficient solutions, we have already become the preferred supplier for several key players, which are proven by several repeat orders”, says Fredrik Grankull, Vice President of Power Distribution.
When asked to list the most important projects in 2020, Grankull mentions several record-breaking aspects. In Finland, Fingrid chose VEO to deliver the largest substation in Finland’s grid so far, a project in which VEO will also work with a voltage level of 400 kV for the first time. In Sweden, VEO managed to win several large-scale grid connection projects as repeat orders from long-term client Ellevio. However, the most impressive Swedish deal in 2020 was VEO being awarded an electrical balance of plant (EBOP) contract by Luxcara for the Markbygden wind cluster, Europe’s largest onshore wind farm cluster to date.
Modular solutions increasingly popular
In all large-scale substation projects, VEO utilises its modular building solution. This concept now has evolved to mega-size buildings of up to 270 m2, with even larger buildings in the pipeline. By prefabricating and testing the complete substation systems with all necessary equipment installed in factory conditions, VEO efficiently decreases building, installation and testing times on site.
“When we switch work phases from the site to a controlled factory environment in this manner, we also make the working conditions safer, and this is something our clients greatly appreciate”, Grankull explains.
In Norway, the Power Distribution unit managed to win most of the few wind energy projects on the market during 2020. Norwegian wind energy is fighting a political uphill battle with investments close to a standstill for the next couple of years. Only a few years back, Power Distribution enjoyed the most favourable winds in Norway, collecting valuable experience from large-scale wind projects to its operations in Finland and Sweden. And in 2020, it was time for the Swedish unit to step up.
Swedish success story
VEO acquired TT360 in the autumn of 2019 to gain necessary local expertise on the Swedish transmission and distribution market. All TT360 employees, together with founders Andreas Yttermark and Willy Palm, transferred to VEO. In 2020, TT360 was gradually integrated into the VEO Group as VEO AB, and in December 2020, the official merger took place.
“On a personal level, it felt like a great honour that a company like VEO saw the potential in us. Andreas and I felt that we had done our share of running a business on our own, and in one way it felt like a relief to hand over the primary responsibility to the competent hands of Fredrik Grankull and the rest of the VEO Group”, Palm reminisces.
During 2020, Palm and Yttermark have worked on shifting their own and the team’s mindset from being an independent supplier to being a part of a multinational group managing massive projects.
“Transferring to another employer in another country affects most parts of the job, and a certain level of uncertainty in the team was therefore natural in the beginning”, says Yttermark.
“However, with open dialogues and close cooperation with the rest of the group, we have managed to sort out the question marks and we now have a very positive and ambitious drive in the team. We are very happy with the help we have received from Viktor Forss, MD for VEO Norway, who has had an active coordinating role in the integration.”
In addition to being a year of integration, the first year as a joint team was a year of unprecedented success. In 2020, VEO AB exceeded its set sales target several times over and developed from being quite a small VEO Power Distribution player in 2019 to now standing for almost half of the business unit’s sales figures.
“Bringing together VEO’s system expertise and our knowledge of local requirements and way of working has allowed for better synergies than anyone could have wished for. As an independent consultancy, last year would have been difficult. Thanks to the merger, we instead had the opportunity to step into even larger shoes and run large-scale projects. For this, we are very grateful towards both our local team and towards the VEO Group”, Palm and Yttermark conclude.
Grankull agrees and adds that the Swedish projects are now delivered more efficiently and with a more consistent quality level.
“The integration was perhaps not as straightforward as we had predicted, which made last year an important learning process for all of us. However, it was worth it, which is proven by a considerable increase in customer satisfaction rates.”
The future looks bright – and modular
Grankull is very optimistic about the future, both when it comes to technology and market share. The modular substation solution has been extended to suit not only distribution but also the industry’s needs and the expansion into the industry sector has already begun. Coupled with the potential market that has opened for the VEO Group in Sweden thanks to the successful integration, this bodes well for the future.
“I am proud of what the Power Distribution family did in 2020. We were spared from the most severe covid-impacts, but like everyone else, all Power Distribution teams have had to work under extraordinary circumstances. Still, we managed to work more efficiently than ever before and build an even stronger foundation for the future”, Grankull concludes.
In the words of our employees
“Year 2020 was busy. In several projects, the design and testing overlapped, causing quite a rush. But, thanks to splendid teamwork, successful prioritisation, the use of external resources as well as helping and supporting each other to solve problems, we were able to respond well to different situations and managed to carry out a large number of projects excellently.”
Ralf Söderholm, Engineering Manager
“We received several large-scale wind power projects during last year. For example, our first 400 kV project to Fingrid and the three consecutive deliveries based on our modular MEGA concept ordered by Ellevio AB, just to name a few. Despite the massive workload, the tight deadlines and the fact that office work was changed to remote working, it was extremely nice to see great successes, superb teamwork and dedication to the projects from the entire personnel.”
Aleksi Peltola, Head of Project Management
“2020 was also a record year for modular substation deliveries, measured in both the number of units and square metres. The largest substation we have in the pipeline is already over 400 m2 in size. This shows the functionality of our modular concept, not only in wind power projects but also on industrial sites. It has been great to also note that our customers have now discovered our modular substations, and they already know to ask for them.”
Ari Pätsi, Development and Sales Support Manager