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Interview with Runolfur Maack of Mannvit on his firms international activities

Miskolc, Hungary (source: Mannvit)
Alexander Richter 24 Jan 2013

In an interview with ThinkGeoEnergy, Runolfur Maack of Icelandic engineering group Mannvit provides details about his company's geothermal activities in Germany, Chile, Philippines and other international markets.

Following recent news on a stronger involvement in Germany, a successful grant application from the European Union, ThinkGeoEnergy had the chance to speak with Runólfur Maack, Senior Project Manager at Icelandic Engineering group Mannvit on his company’s activities in Germany, Hungary and Chile, but also other international markets.

Mannvit has over the past few years been active in Germany, mostly in Southern Germany. Can you describe a little bit the background for this involvement and what projects the company has worked on?

Mannvit has been watching the German market for more than ten years now and playing increasing role with its services. Early on we saw the need for know-how in geothermal development in the market and thought it would be a very promising opportunity for our company. However we soon found out that the market favors local companies for services. So to become part of the development we decided to become part of a German consulting company and be in the back seat as support. Early on we serviced Enex and Exorka in planning and scheduling for their endeavor to start geothermal development in several concessions like Wolfratshausen, Geretsried, Mauerstetten etc. and at present we are involved in the power plant engineering in Taufkirchen.

Mannvit owns a stake in Geothermie Neubrandenburg (GTN), a geothermal energy focused engineering firm. As part of that relationship, Mannvit recently announced opening a joint office with GTN in Berlin, Germany. What are the expectations for Mannvit in Germany with this step?

Mannvit not only holds stake in GTN but the majority of shares so GTN is now an active member of the Mannvit group and not only in Germany but worldwide. This is just a logical next step for us and for the future we plan to render our services through GTN on the German market. Our part in the new Berlin office is mainly for GTN´s support and to be as close to the market as possible. It goes without saying that mother and daughter companies do not compete.

How would you describe the current status of geothermal development in Germany?

It is quite interesting to follow the slow but gradual development. When we first started our marketing work we urged our potential clients to consider district heating systems instead of power generation. For us raised in Iceland it is the most natural approach. At the time we felt our message received little attention but now we see a very positive district heating development and the economy of projects is very much improved. So there is a future in geothermal development in Germany.

How does Mannvit provide value-added services to the German geothermal market and what implications does this have to its international activities?

Mannvit is one of the largest geothermal know-how company in the world and having GTN on board as well we cover all aspects of geothermal development. Besides, Mannvit adds a lot to the capacity as may be needed. Also we expect this concept to work on the international market, and we have already started our activities in Latin America in our mutual company GTN LA, located in Santiago, Chile.

Mannvit also works in other geothermal markets world-wide. Can you describe the main regional focus areas for Mannvit and what the company sees these markets as an opportunity?

Our market focuses are on Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany, the Rift Valley in East-Africa, USA and Latin America. Also where there are geothermal resources being developed Mannvit is not far off! Mannvit has established subsidiaries or daughter companies in these regions except for Africa. Additonally Mannvit has subsidiaries in Norway as well as in the UK although not focusing on geothermal development. We see both East-Africa and Latin America as upcoming geothermal markets where our geothermal exploration teams, drilling and power plant expertise can help progress the development. We’re also following the geothermal development in South-East Asia where we are e.g. engaged in new project development in the Philippines.

There have been rumors about a recent deal in Chile that involves Mannvit. Can you maybe inform the readers of ThinkGeoEnergy on this engagement?

Our latest development in Chile is an owners´ engineering service contract for GeoGlobalEnergy’s geothermal power plant in Curacautín and the services are rendered through our company in Santiago, GTN LA which we own together with GTN in Germany and Fundacion Chile which is a new venture fund helping out in establishing high quality geothermal services for years to come in Latin America although focusing on the huge geothermal resources in Chile. Mannvit’s work in geothermal development in Iceland, both in exploration and the design of geothermal power plants in Iceland for local developers match the challenging conditions Chilean developers are facing in their projects. These are technical and environmental challenges that we have experience in dealing with at Mannvit.

ThinkGeoEnergy thanks Runolfur for taking the time to answer our questions.