ATS group, on the opportunities
provided by energy transition


We have been collaborating with Alfen for a number of years now. Our partnership is constructive, strong and is built on trust. A true partner!

Can you reflect on your relationship with Alfen?

How do you view the future of reliable, sustainable energy and what challenges does it bring?

The route to decarbonisation will accelerate. It won’t be provided by one solution but by multiple integrated solutions which means more solar, wind and hydrogen. 

In terms of sustainability and safety, nuclear is a good idea but it has poor public perception. About 60% of Belgium’s power was supplied by nuclear energy but this is being slowly phased out. The question is whether Belgium is ready to compensate. It is probable that we will need more gas in the short-term.

There is also a strong need for storage technologies,
such as carbon capture storage, to offset our oil and gas history. Optimising storage of electricity via batteries is now a top priority. The storage optimisation of hydrogen still has a long way to go.

Alongside these technologies, it is important to improve energy efficiency. ATS has a role to play here across all our divisions; for example, by leading the charge to make buildings more sustainable and providing energy efficient solutions.

The primary goal is to make society carbon-free and industry is, and must, be a pioneer, paving the way to a sustainable society. We see many customers who want to invest in sustainability. Many are interested in generating green energy from solar, wind, geothermal and heat pumps. Others are interested in energy efficiency solutions such as relighting and insulation. ATS can offer installation of these energy-efficient solutions.

We have already gained a lot of practical experience. About 4 years ago, ATS bought an old industrial property of 1 hectare in the port of Ghent. The buildings and systems have been overhauled using advanced sustainable technologies so that they don’t just meet today’s standards, but tomorrow’s standards. 

Building techniques are constantly monitored, we generate geothermal, solar and wind energy and an intelligent 350kWh battery station can autonomously determine the energy flows from or to the grid, to determine whether batteries are charged or discharged according to parameters including the cost price of energy and own energy generation and consumption, etc. It is the ideal way to practically demonstrate our competencies to our customers.

ATS is also making its services more sustainable. At present, the Group has about 100 electro-hybrid and natural gas vehicles in its fleet and has installed Alfen charging points at its offices. It is likely that we will
switch to fully electric vehicles in the near future.

Can you give us your view of energy transition and explain how ATS contributes to it?

" The primary goal is to make society carbon-free
and industry is, and must, be a pioneer, paving
the way to a sustainable society "

Our mission statement describes the DNA of ATS which stands for entrepreneurship, respect, quality and diversity. The company has four divisions: i) electrical engineering, ii) mechatronics (which includes things like robotics and ergonomics), iii) distribution (which is largely focused on business-to-business sales of electrical components) and iv) air-conditioning and energy efficient solutions. Luminus, part of EDF Group, came on board in 2015 as a main shareholder and has really stimulated activity around energy efficient solutions

and energy transition which is how the fourth division
has become what it is today.

I joined ATS in 1986 and have held a variety of roles, including project engineering, and now manage the electrical engineering division together with Chris Corijn. The division is responsible for about 40% of the overall business and has four main activities: mid-voltage, low-voltage, automation and power quality. The majority of our business is in Belgium. 

Can you introduce ATS and explain your role within the company?

Founded in 1984, ATS Group is a Belgian multidisciplinary technology group that creates sustainable, innovative and efficient production and working environments by delivering turnkey electro-mechanical projects. Headquartered in Merelbeke, it has branches across Belgium and a team of almost 900 technicians and engineers, with specialisms including electrical engineering, mechatronics, HVAC and energy solutions.  

We spoke to Hendrik Aelbrecht, Division Manager of ATS’ electrotechnical division, about the company’s activities in the energy industry and his experience of energy transition. 

An interview with Hendrik Aelbrecht,
Division Manager at ATS