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Timo Ala-Heikkila
CEO
VEO

03 November 2022

VEO works in a variety of business sectors; what are the most important ways in which you are assisting the green transition?

In a nutshell, VEO is an integrator; we have our own key products (e.g., switchgears, automation solutions), but we also buy cutting-edge technologies from our partners and  combine them all together to help customers navigate this massive transformation.

Hydro is undoubtedly a critical sector for us, and it is currently booming. Approximately 95% of the projects we handle in this area are renovations (e.g. plants that are no longer fulfilling grid requirements, are out of date or that they want to increase their output). We also put a significant amount of effort into connecting wind farms to the grid and projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency for industrial customers. For example, installing heat pumps or automating certain processes.

You are also involved in a number of storage-related initiatives; how is this segment developing?

The issue with storage is that it is still very expensive, particularly on a large scale. However, it is crucial, especially now that intermittent sources such as wind are becoming more strategic. For the time being, we are primarily involved in projects that aim to keep the grid operational in the event of a blackout. Further Power-to-x technologies will become more popular in the future, as they will help make the most of a windy day. This, I believe, is the future.

What are some of the most pressing issues in your line of work right now?

What’s limiting us is not the new projects and the revenue as such; the question has become how to obtain certain components in a timely manner. This has recently proven difficult, possibly one of the most difficult challenges we have ever faced. On the one hand, we are working under fixed-price contracts at a time when costs have unexpectedly increased, and on the other hand, some components are simply unavailable. We had to build stocks (which means taking on additional risks) and order products at an early stage - any change from the customer side, as you might expect, has a significant impact on us.

 

If we talk about wind parks, so many investors want to develop new projects because the technology is now profitable - but one big challenge is the permitting process.

 

Projects are postponed because of this and the impact is felt throughout the supply chain. The same goes for hydro.

What are your business priorities for the next few years?

For the time being, we are focusing on the Nordics (our home market, Finland, is thriving), but the plan is to expand beyond this region and grow organically in new areas across Europe. The next challenge is scalability; we currently have nearly 500 technical experts on our team, but the field is highly competitive, and finding new talent is difficult. This is one area of focus, along with finding good subcontractors and win-win collaborations, to ensure we have the capacity to serve all of our customers.

Given how complex projects have become, collaboration is the only way forward; no single company can handle everything. As a result, I advocate for networking, collaboration, and spending time with people of all levels as a means of learning. The key to this green transition is collaboration.

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