It’s a Saturday, the sun is shining and I’m ready to take on my next adventure! Next stop is Sollefteå, a small town in the northern part of Sweden. For me the first rotation in Statkraft, in the Asset Portfolio Planning unit, is over and new challenges meet me at the regional office for the Swedish hydro power. Sweden is a familiar place for most Norwegians; growing up we watched a lot of Swedish television starring Astrid Lindgren’s characters like Pippi Longstocking and Emil i Lønneberget. I have travelled there several times to buy cheap candy and my old apartment was filled up by furnitures from IKEA. So you can say I have become quite familiar with this country. The only difference this time is that I would have to live in the country for six months.
Sollefteå is the city which hosts the main office for Statkraft’s Swedish Hydropower plants and is also the place where I’m going to live the next six months. For those of you that don’t know Swedish geography that well – Sollefteå is small town located in the northern part of Sweden, with nearby cities like Sundsvall and Östersund. From Sollefteå, Statkraft manage a total of 55 hydro power plants with a total production 5,4 TWh/year (For more information). My plan for this rotation is to get to know the Swedish hydro power business and learn more about portfolio and project management.
What am I doing now?
One of my main tasks is to work with the Swedish long term plan, which is a form of portfolio management. Portfolio management can be explained as the way to manage a portfolio of projects. The aim is to decide upon which project to run and the optimal time to run it. What we basically do is that we manage a portfolio consisting of the Swedish hydro power projects and decide which project we should run the next few years based on the assets’ condition. My work tasks consist of doing analyses, meeting with engineers to discuss conditions and prioritization of different projects. This week I travelled to Stockholm and Laholm, to present our prioritization draft for 2017 and 2018 to the Swedish management group.
The other part I’ve been working with so far is project management, where I’m given an introduction into how Statkraft run brownfield hydro power projects. Being able to work hands on with upcoming projects is interesting, because you learn about how to detect fault conditions, evaluate the problem and look into possible solutions. So far I’ve been looking into three different dam safety projects; where the scope of the projects has been from improving the stabilization of a dam construction, re-design spillway gates and increase spillway capacity to meet modern requirement.
A new country means new rules and legislations.
Moving to a new country you have to expect that things are done a bit differently than what you are used to. For me this meant getting to know the Swedish energy business and build up necessary skills. During my first couple of weeks I therefore read several reports about the Swedish energy industry and attended courses related to dam safety legislation(RIDAS) and ESA-14 (Electric Security).
What was clear to me from early on is that the prerequisites for exploiting hydropower in Scandinavia are different. The Swedish rivers are long and with relatively low elevation from the beginning to the end, which implies many stations with low power output. In Norway the fall heights are greater and there are fewer power stations. These topographic differences highly affects the way the plants are operated – in Sweden most production plants are of the “Run-of-river” type. While in Norway we often talk about pelton turbines, the Swedish “normal” is francis and kaplan turbines.
Life in Sweden
Life in Sweden is not just work. The locals have given me a warm welcome, and invited me to a range of different activities. The perception of Norwegians in this town is that we love sports, so it took them only a few minutes to suggest that I should join the local football team. I wasn’t hard to ask – I joined the club and last week I even played my first match! There is also a decent ski arena here, so there has been several cross-country and downhill ski trips already!
The first two months I have spent here have been living up to my expectations. I’ve got settled in very well, learned a lot and got to challenge myself with existing tasks. I really look forward to the next four months!!