The pressure for clean energy is rising, and for power companies, this could mean an abrupt change – unless, like TSK, they have been preparing. We spoke with Joaquin Garcia Rico, TSK’s CEO, about the group of companies’ global success and widely diversified offerings in the power and industrial sectors; in particular, we spoke about how it is preparing for, as well as contributing to, the changing landscape of energy.
TSK has become one of Spain’s leading companies in terms of EPC projects (engineering, procurement, and construction) in the energy, industrial, minerals handling and environment sectors. Its reach goes far beyond Spain, however; in fact, 97% of the company’s operations are international, with a portfolio that has, over the years, included projects in over 50 countries. Currently present in 35 countries, with a team of over 1000 employees, TSK’s wide-reaching operations generate a turnover of more than €1000 million. You can’t argue with that level of success.
TSK specialises in the execution of turn-key projects and the supply of technological solutions for industrial plants, power generation plants, water treatment plants, oil & gas or storage facilities and raw material handling. In particular, the company has 30 years’ experience in the engineering, construction, assembly and commissioning of electric generation plants, and is able to offer technologies such as open-cycle, combined-cycle, cogeneration, wind farms, thermalsolar and photovoltaic plants, as well as hydraulic and biomass plants. In total, the company has been involved in the construction of 212 generating plants, for companies including ENDE, CFE, Energia del Valle de Mexico, PLN and APSCL.
We spoke with Joaquin, TSK’s CEO, about how TSK has achieved and maintained this success. He felt that one of the company’s main strengths was its diversity, working with a range of technologies and across a range of markets. “Our diversification allows us to adapt and deal with decelerations. We survived one of the most important crises in history, growing and strengthening ourselves year after year until becoming one of the most important engineering firms in Spain.” Geographically, a large proportion of its business is currently in Latin America – unsurprising, given the company’s Spanish origins. Latin America accounts for 39% of TSK’s current market, followed by the Middle East at 32%, Asia at 10% and Africa at 9%. However, it also spans markets in terms of industries, including its involvement in both non-renewable and renewable energy. It also means adapting to what its customers want in terms of services – for example, whilst TSK began as a heavily EPC-based company, its operational and maintenance support services are increasingly sought after by its client base, and it has shifted and expanded its efforts accordingly.
“We have achieved our objective of consolidating ourselves in a volume of activity at around 1 billion euros of sales for the third year in a row. After a decade of growth to double digits where we have multiplied our business volume by 10, now our main strategy is to keep growing, but at a more moderate pace, and especially to keep a diverse book of business where we do not depend on any type of activity or any specific territory. In our sector, reaching sales of 1 billion euros, with our own capital of more than 350 million euros, means that we are big enough to execute the majority of the projects that are tendered in our areas of activity, which allows us to select the projects we feel the most appropriate at each moment.”
TSK works heavily, but not exclusively, within the oil & gas sector, and it must consider the same question facing every company in the world of power generation – climate change. “Our company has a long-term outlook: the increasing in population and as improving quality of life will boost the demand for new infrastructures, largely energy and industrial. “It is without a doubt that energy generation must contribute in a steadfast way to sustainable development that protects the planet and ensures prosperity to everyone. With this purpose, it is clear that the medium and long-term energy future turns inevitably to renewable energy. Nevertheless, this transition cannot jeopardise the prosperity of some areas for the benefit of others.”
In other words, Joaquin and TSK acknowledge the urgent importance of renewable energy, but are reluctant to retire non-renewables altogether, or at least to do so too suddenly. Joaquin sees a rising demand for energy in the future, and so believes that both energy types must be used in balance – especially as countries that economically rely on non-renewable sectors wean themselves off it.
Unlike such countries, TSK is not inhibited by being reliant on any one sector, and, whilst Joaquin advises caution in running towards a purely renewable future, the company has been engaging with and investing in this sector for some 15 years. “One of our distinguishing marks is our sturdy commitment to fighting against climate change.” To this end, TSK has specialised in business segments that will be key in a renewable energy future, such as large-scale energy storage. In a joint venture with the English company Highview Power, TSK has developed a long-lasting energy storage system that operates on a massive, gigawatt-per-hour scale. The system uses a proprietary cryogenic energy storage technology that allows immediate transition from thermal and nuclear energy to renewable.
“This has positioned us as a cutting-edge technological company at an international level opening up an impressive field of opportunities before the unstoppable growth of renewable energies. Our solutions are not only economically feasible, but also scalable, clean and long lasting and can be implemented ipso facto.”
The joint venture with Highview Power is just one of many renewable energy projects for TSK and this is not even its only breakthrough development – TSK has also devised a concept of a solar hybrid plant that combines photovoltaic technology with thermosolar technology, which would allow for the generation of renewable energy 24 hours a day at a competitive cost. “This solves the problem of the intermittency of renewable energies,” explains Joaquin. “On the one hand, the main advantage of thermosolar technology is that it allows for generating electricity in a manageable way at any time of the day, having the capacity to store energy on a great scale. On the other hand, the main advantage of photovoltaic technology is the competitivity when referring to the cost of investment and maintenance.” Combining the two allows TSK to harness the best of both worlds, allowing this renewable energy plant to compete with non-renewable sources in a meaningful way.
The full list of TSK’s current renewable projects could go on and on; it sees that this is the market of the future, so whilst it hasn’t abandoned other industries, clean energy accounts for a fair proportion of its contracts. It has completed work for ACWA Power, Masdar, EDF, Macquarie and EOSOL, with new contracts around the world. One notable new project is its 40M€ contract to build the first wind farm in Saudi Arabia. This farm (400MW) will be the largest of its kind in the Middle East. It has also been chosen by ERANOVE to construct the first combined cycle plant in Togo – a 65MW plant that will account for 30% of the country’s energy needs. The full list is extensive, with each contract value in the tens of millions.
As well as taking on large contracts, TSK encourages developments and projects in smaller companies by promoting and supporting innovative starts ups and SMEs. It does this through work centres that it sets up to facilitate the projects proposed by these smaller companies. Similar to these centres, the company has an internal branch called “TSK Innovation” that combines all of its own R&D initiatives to be developed under one umbrella. This push towards an increasingly technological profile has been a key part of the company’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.
All in all, Grupo TSK’s reach is not one to take lightly; it has spent its 30 years of operation manoeuvring itself to be deeply positioned in multiple sectors across multiple markets throughout the world, supporting both long-established industries and those of the future. Whichever way the pendulum swings, TSK will stay secure, and its evolving plans and technological capabilities ensure that it won’t be left behind by trends. We believe that is the right way to work, and its success is a testament to this approach.