In conversation

Agathe Gross 

Agathe Gross, Ventia Executive General Manager Energy, Water and Renewables shares her thoughts on what some of those opportunities are, the challenges that exist and how we are uniquely positioned to serve the energy transition. 

Tremendous opportunities exist across the energy sector as Australia and New Zealand strive toward clean energy targets for 2030 through to 2050.

What part is the Ventia Energy, Water and Renewables team playing in the energy transition?

We work with clients on grid connected projects that can accelerate the path to net zero. When it comes to transmission and distribution maintenance, we have a lot to offer, the electricity grid needs to be more flexible and perform well at any point in time to allow for further electrification and the operations and maintenance work we do plays to this directly. We bring a really compelling offering to clients thanks to our scale, skills and geographical coverage across Australia and New Zealand. 

What are some of the capabilities that your team brings to energy clients?

Ventia as a whole operates on every aspect of the value chain, in front of and behind the meter.  In my part of the business specifically, we operate across the “front of the meter” value chain: electricity generation (incl. renewables), transmission, substations and distribution and in gas transmission and distribution. We cover the full spectrum of design, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance. We are a leader in Australia and New Zealand in transmission live line construction and innovative solutions, in distribution poles and wires construction and maintenance as well in large scale gas projects. The core of our work is operations and maintenance and what we call ‘minor capital works’. 


Electricity and gas work in Danseys Pass, New Zealand.


What opportunities are there for Ventia across the energy and renewables industry?

There are tremendous opportunities. If we look at the goals that Australia and New Zealand have by 2030 and 2050, there’s so much infrastructure that is required to change the way we do things, produce more renewable energy, increase the capacity in the flexibility of the grid, and connect those renewable assets. All of this for a service provider just like ourselves provides great growth opportunities. We want to partner with our clients and support their growth. 

What are some of the challenges facing the industry?

The first one is resource availability, at least on our side of the industry, which is servicing the large asset owners of electricity, gas and renewable infrastructure. Whether it’s for construction or for operations and maintenance, there’s a shortage of skilled resources in Australia and New Zealand. 

There’s about 2000 to 2500km of transmission line that needs to be built on the Australian east and south coasts every year to meet our targets for 2030, and there is only about a third of the capacity required to achieve this at the moment.

The other challenge is more systemic and industry-wide, which is the planning that is required to make sure that everything required for the energy transition is done in a concerted and sequential way. For example, in Australia, how do we, not only build enough renewables to meet the 82 per cent renewable generation targets that we have by 2030 but connect it to a grid with added capacity and flexibility. How do we build storage to firm capacity? Planning and guidelines will also give more certainty to asset owners and to investors to invest in the long term and build the required infrastructure in the right sequence.


Electricity and Gas work in Blairgowrie, Victoria.


What parts of the renewable energy industry are you currently working across?

We’ve worked in New Zealand on some renewable assets for a number of years across hydro, wind and geothermal, and in Australia we’re really growing our business across several dimensions. For example, we recently started operation and maintenance jobs on solar assets in New South Wales and in Western Australia. In parallel, we’re also looking at opportunities, both in Australia and New Zealand for solar and wind farms, and that would either be the full balance of plant or just the electrical balance of plant, which is the core of the work that we do, and then associated sub-stations that would go with that. 

What excites you about the future for Ventia within the energy industry?

I think we really have a unique opportunity to serve the energy transition in Australia and New Zealand in an end-to-end way and in a complete manner for customers. If you look at transmission and distribution asset owners, they don’t just have needs around building their electricity infrastructure and looking at their networks. They need telecom capabilities because they need communications from their system into their operations centre and to control. They will need some form of facilities maintenance for their plant and their assets. They will probably need some partnerships behind the meter and we’re able to uniquely provide all of that within Ventia.

Obviously, there’s things that are not part of our core, and where we decide that this is where we’re going to grow, we'll put the capabilities and efforts towards it. Where we think we’re not the best to do that job, we have quite a unique capability to bring the best people who can do that job to the table. Because we know the industry, in terms of having to find the right people and coordinate them, we can take that worry away from our clients.


Hear from more of the team

Our energy networks team Agathe Gross Executive General Manager - Electricity & Gas, Even Hennie General Manager - Electricity & Gas Australia and Craig MacDonald General Manager Energy, Networks & Renewables talk about the way in which Ventia is working with clients to support the energy transition and the opportunities available as the transition accelerates below.