5 Mins With ... Tim Mendelssohn, CEO of Spark
Tell us about Spark, how the business started and your objectives?
In early 2019, we launched Spark Commodities (Spark), based in Singapore and backed by Kpler, the industry-leading commodities data & analytics provider, and EEX, a world-renowned global exchange that is part of the Deutsche Boerse Group. The goal was simple; to redefine how commodity markets trade, beginning with creating an LNG freight index. The reality was that we were taking on some of the biggest, most established players in a multi-billion dollar part of the energy industry. However, a strong combination of shareholder support and a strong, in-house developer team gave us the foundation to make an impact. We’ve now got over 200 companies on the platform, 1000+ users and have recently listed our contracts on ICE.
How can modern startups compete with established legacy operators and what are the benefits and limitations for new enterprises?
While we don’t have the legacy of our competitors, we compete by building an organisation that is designed to respond to the market. If you logged into Spark two years ago, and then logged in now, you would see a fundamentally different platform. This iterative approach means we can deliver what our customers need, deploying modern technologies in a more powerful way that adds greater value. The challenge is that you have to build trust through strong, continued and sustained delivery and execution. When your competitors are 100+ years old, well funded and have hundreds of employees, there are no second chances.
We hear a lot about 'customer centric' operations, what does that mean to Spark in the context of the technical industry?
We take customer data to form robust indices that the market can use when managing risk. When creating and developing both the platform and our indices, we must ensure our products are both accurate and valuable. The only way to do this is listening continuously and iterating as the market and their respective needs evolve.
How important are partnerships in attracting and sustaining business?
Without our partnerships, we’d join the long list of companies with good ideas but limited validation. Partnerships, in the form of shareholder structures, collaboration with exchanges (in our case ICE) and developing relationships with key customers demonstrates validation and our ability to add real value. Without this, it’s hard to transition from an idea to a functioning business.
What role will digital transformation play in the energy transition and achieving net zero targets?
It’s a vast subject but conceptually, an increase in digital offerings will facilitate greater transparency, which in turn should lead to greater trust, greater adoption and therefore faster adoption of transition-focused solutions. I believe that transparency will act as a natural accelerant to the process and we aim to be part of that process.
Scala Data Centers sets 2033 renewables goal
Scala Data Centers is pledging to provide its Brazil customers with 100% renewable energy by 2033.
The strategic goal follows the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with ENGIE Brasil Energia, the Brazilian's largest private energy producer. The contract guarantees the supply of more than 1,600 GWh of clean energy in 12 years, a volume sufficient to supply, for one year, a city of around 700,000 people.
Scala Data Centers is a sustainable hyperscale data center platform, founded by DigitalBridge.
Marcos Peigo, co-founder and CEO of Scala, said the agreement with ENGIE reinforces the company's non-negotiable commitment to base its operational growth on fully sustainable premises. "We focus on strategic partnerships that can scale and maintain our operation with the lowest possible environmental impact, without giving up the high quality and competitiveness that are recognised differentials of our company", the executive said.
Eduardo Sattamini, CEO of ENGIE Brasil Energia, added that offering solutions to decarbonise its customers' operations is in line with ENGIE's purpose of acting to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon neutral society. "Our partnership with Scala demonstrates the importance of sustainability as an added value for business prosperity, in harmony with the future of people and the planet" he said.
Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) state that, in the last five years, 50% of the PPAs contracted around the world came from leading global technology companies.
Since 2007, Google has been using renewable energy and managed, 10 years later, to zero its global carbon emissions. More recently, Amazon has committed to zero carbon emissions by 2040 and to use 100% renewable energy by 2030. Oracle has expanded its commitment to sustainability, promising to leverage its global operations using 100% renewable energy until 2025.
Peigo hopes that its "leading role" can inspire other Latin American companies to follow the same path.
In regards to the UN’s 7th Sustainable Development Goal (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), Brazil’s energy policies have been very effective in meeting world’s most urgent energy challenges, according to Climate Scorecard.
Firstly, access to electricity across the country is almost universal and the electricity sector is the largest in South America. The power sector in Brazil serves more than 50 million customers, granting 97% of the country’s households’ reliable electricity.
Renewables compose almost 45% of Brazil’s primary energy demand, making it one of the least carbon-intensive globally, and its national grid is made up of almost 80% from renewable sources. A large part of its renewable resources come from biofuels and hydro.
Atlas Renewable Energy, along with Unipar, a leader in chlorine, chlorides, and PVC in South America, recently signed a large-scale solar energy PPA in Brazil. The clean solar energy supply will be generated through Atlas Renewable Energy's Lar do Sol – Casablanca II photovoltaic plant in Pirapora, State of Minas Gerais.
"The adoption of renewables is becoming a staple of good corporate responsibility and we at Atlas offer a unique opportunity for large energy consumers to clean their energy matrix and at the same time be sponsors of the social and environmental programs we develop to uplift the communities where we operate," said Luis Pita, General Manager of Atlas Renewable Energy for Brazil.
Mauricio Russomanno, CEO at Unipar, added that the total amount of generated energy destined to Unipar will be enough to produce chlorine for water treatment to over 60 million people.