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Hilde Bakken has headed Statkraft’s new business area, Power Generation, since 1 February 2013. Early on, she said there would be changes. A brand new management team is now in place.

As a chartered engineer with experience from ConocoPhillips, Hydro and 13 years in Statkraft, three of which on the executive management team, Hilde Bakken, at 47, is herself well prepared for the task as head of Power Generation (PG). She also took an extensive course at the Norwegian National Defence College, which will be very useful when contributing to Statkraft’s safety and preparedness project as head of the steering committee.

As head of PG, she is responsible for the operation and further development of flexible European assets, operation and maintenance of wind power, and business area International Hydro’s European power plants. The Statkraft Project Management Office (PMO) also reports to Bakken.

“I’ve spent a lot of time since I got started on getting a governance model in place in PG, and the levels below me has been restructured accordingly.”

We’re well prepared for our task of developing and operating a very important portfolio in Statkraft.

A slew of challenges

“Statkraft has an ambition to have a lasting competitive advantage within operations and maintenance,” says Bakken. “This is no small task for PG to deliver. And everything we do must be done in a way that safeguards health, safety and the environment (HSE) in the best possible manner. We must also deliver projects on time and within budget, and work on maintaining our portfolio. ”

The challenges are many: HSE, a growing maintenance portfolio, new framework conditions and a power market in constant change. The average age among the 600 Norwegian employees is high, which indicates a need to secure fresh development and operational expertise in years to come.

“Our facilities are ageing,” she says. “How are we to maintain them in a sound fashion? At the same time we must, of course, look for opportunities to acquire new expertise and capacity.”

The "new" Power Generation

Power Generation increases focus on management, strategy and long-term issues, in addition to continued attention to sound operations. This means that some changes will be made to the organisation and several new functions will be established. The latter includes business development, coordination and development of wind energy projects as well as strategic and long-term development of facilities.

Some of the principles that form the basis for further development of the PG organisation include:

1) more explicit delegation of authority and responsibility to the line,
2) clear roles and responsibilities,
3) clear local, national and global processes, roles and deliveries,
4) and that PG must become clearer and better at its role as a service provider, both internally between units and externally with other areas within Statkraft.

Keeping our competitive advantage

The vision of delivering “pure energy” flows through all of Statkraft. The strategy of flexible power generation and energy trade in Norway and the rest of Western Europe, with a major focus on renewable energy, has established clear guidelines for the organisation.

“We’re a highly experienced, competent and loyal organisation which carries out its work in a good and consistent manner over time,” says Bakken. “But there are challenges that we need to address. The organisation has grown significantly over the past five years, a trend that will continue. It is important to handle this development in a good and efficient way.”

Another challenge is the very strained financial situation in Europe. This will naturally impact the power industry and Statkraft.

“Our gas-fired power portfolio is struggling with profitability due to low coal and CO2 prices, as well as significant growth in solar energy,” says Bakken. “As a result of this, a decision was made in March to put the Robert Frank gas-fired power plant in cold reserve. This means a major downsizing of staff at the plant.

”The changes in Europe will also impact Statkraft’s activities in the Nordic region. Power consumption is affected by economic trends on the continent and the price level of CO2 means that the future prospects for power prices are anything but bright.

“Developing new renewable energy in the Nordic region and access to more nuclear power from our Nordic neighbours means that the power surplus is growing,” Bakken says. “This means our dependency on more new international interconnectors will increase.”

Hilde Bakken
I think the organisation is robust enough to handle change and do things differently.

Change is coming

This backdrop is one of the reasons why Bakken is signalling changes to the PG structure. The background was presented internally in the company in March 2013.

“A lot of what we do today was also being done 20 or 30 years ago, so that our work methods have been established over time,” she says.

“There are many positive aspects of how we work now. But since the framework conditions have been changed, both for existing and new tasks, we will be forced to work slightly differently in the future. A lot of work remains, but what is certain is that there will be changes in the PG structure.”

Bakken says she wants to make responsibilities more clear than they are today.

“The work processes will change, so that the line and operative function have greater responsibility,” she explains. “Those with authority must be willing and competent to handle the commitments and responsibilities that come with the territory.”

While change can be a challenge for some organisations, Bakken is not worried.

“I think the organisation is robust enough to handle change and do things differently,” she says. “What is important to me is that I won’t be locked up in an office, thinking about our most important priorities and objectives on my own. I want the entire organisation to be part of this development. I think this is the way to achieve the best results. And with such a competent organisation, I won’t settle for anything less.”

Text: Lily Kalvø
Photo: Erik Thallaug
Also published in Statkraft's magazine People & Power no. 2/2013