Hong Kong’s Ampd Energy Is Engaged In Global Expansion To Make Construction Sites Greener

Brandon Ng, head of Hong Kong-based battery energy storage system manufacturer Ampd Energy, has boosted growth despite global headwinds.


spush for lithium prices and the wailing of the supply chain isn’t stopping Brandon Ng, co-founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Ampd Energy, from pushing ahead with global expansion plans. His company has created an all-electric replacement for diesel generators on construction sites. Having started out in Hong Kong, Ampd has recently expanded into Singapore and Australia – and Ng sees Europe as its next market as the construction industry begins to clean up its work.

Construction sites are one of the major polluters and decarbonising the construction sector is a crucial front in the fight against climate change. Today, construction companies turn to companies like Ampd to power equipment such as tower cranes and welding machines. “Sustainability is no longer a core agenda for just a fringe group,” said Ng, who holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College London. “I think everyone cares now.”

Ampd, which was founded in 2014 and made the 100 to Watch list last year, says its products emit up to 85% less carbon dioxide than traditional diesel generators and do not produce tailpipe emissions such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. A typical diesel generator on a construction site produces about 100 tons of carbon emissions each year, it claims, equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gases produced by about 22 gasoline-powered cars running continuously over the same period.

The company started by making lithium-ion battery backup generators for buildings that require uninterrupted power, such as hospitals, data centers and telecom networks. Then, in early 2018, Hong Kong-based Gammon Construction, which had just launched a campaign to cut carbon intensity — or emissions per unit of energy — by 25% by 2025, approached Ampd to see if its battery technology could be adapted to power construction sites. to provide power. .

After nearly two years of tinkering, Ampd created a 7.3-ton, 2.6-meter-tall glossy white box filled with 30,000 lithium-ion battery cells. Ng called it Enertainer, a portmanteau of energy and container. “It was unprecedented in construction,” he says. “This was the first time anyone had attempted to fully utilize an energy storage system to run the construction site.”

“Sustainability is no longer a core agenda for just a fringe group.”

Brandon Ng, co-founder and CEO of Ampd Energy

In October 2019, Gammon Construction – a 50-50 joint venture between Hong Kong conglomerate Jardine Matheson and Balfour Beatty, Britain’s largest construction company by revenue – became the first company to use the Enertainer. Gammon deployed them to power equipment used to build the nine-story, 108,000-square-foot, $600 million state-of-the-art manufacturing center for government-backed Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks (HKSTP was also an early financier from Ampd). Since then, Ampd’s client list has grown to include some of the region’s preeminent family businesses: Brothers Robert and Philip Ng’s Far East Organization, Lee Shau Kee’s Henderson Land, Henry Cheng’s New World Development, Vincent Lo’s Socam, and the Kwok family. Sun Hung Kai properties.

New World Development’s Hip Hing Construction uses Enertainers to “reduce fossil fuel use, reduce carbon footprint and optimize energy use,” a spokesperson for New World Development’s infrastructure unit said in email. Entertainers are also helping Sino Group (an investor in Ampd), the sister company of Far East Organization, to achieve its 2030 sustainability vision formulated two years ago in support of UN goals. In addition to the environmental benefits, Enertainers provide a big data platform for analytics, said Deputy Chairman Daryl Ng in email comments, the eldest son of Chairman Robert Ng and co-founder of the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation (no relation to Brandon Ng). “This is conducive to increasing project efficiency and the digitization of construction,” he adds. Other benefits of the units include noise reduction and increased safety, as electric power is quieter than diesel engines and requires no flammable fuel, Ampd claims.

The company announced in May that it has deployed its 100th unit – a number that is expected to increase as Ampd continues to expand. To fund that effort, Ampd had led an undisclosed Series A financing round last year from London-based venture capital firm 2150 and Australian real estate-focused Taronga Ventures. Ng refuses to disclose earnings, but says Ampd is profitable on a per-unit basis, meaning it makes a profit on individual sales or leases, but is generally unprofitable due to fixed costs.

Ampd took the first step abroad at the end of last year. In November, Far East Organization installed Enertainers at the One Holland Village construction site in Singapore, which is operated by local construction giant Woh Hup. In July, the system was commissioned by Australia’s Multiplex at The Grove, a luxury mixed-use development in Perth. “We saw Singapore and Australia as two markets in the Asia-Pacific that really set the sustainability agenda,” says Brandon Ng. “They are leading the way in this.”

He is now looking at the environmentally conscious European market. It plans to launch in the UK later this year before expanding into continental Europe, where competitors such as Swedish engineering group Atlas Copco and Austrian startup Xelectrix Power already have a foothold with similar technologies.

Ng has been busy preparing for this growth. Ampd has more than doubled its workforce to 60 in the past 12 months and has recruited key executives. Last year, it hired Tara Hobbs, a former product director at Elon Musk’s SolarCity, as vice president of software, and Charles Cox, who previously served as general manager for China and Southeast Asia at Katerra, a once burgeoning construction startup backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. , as vice president of hardware and supply chain.

The company announced in May that it has deployed its 100th unit – a number that is expected to increase as Ampd continues to expand.

As it expands, Ng says Ampd is working with partners to address industry-wide challenges. “Our suppliers notified us of the supply chain disruptions very early, all the way back into 2020,” he says. “So we have adapted to this new reality by maintaining high inventory levels – clearly higher than we would like – but that has allowed us to maintain the continuity of production and growth.” However, Ampd still faces long lead times, sometimes over a year, for many parts, especially chips.

At the same time, as with other battery companies, Ampd’s margins have come under pressure as strong global demand for electric vehicles drives up the cost of lithium. Prices are up more than 120% so far this year and are up about 360% in the past 12 months, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. The scant supply, limited by limited investment in new projects, has contributed to the rise in the lithium price.

That has led Ng to innovate. Ampd’s team of engineers, which makes up nearly a quarter of its workforce, improved the software to reduce the need for batteries, by up to 40%, while improving performance, he says. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions, as the saying goes.”

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