The global energy sector is buzzing with change, renewed by a commitment to renewables and finally making bold strides towards a cleaner, sustainable future.
The demand for clean energy is driven by climate change concerns. But it’s also to protect consumers against wild spikes in fossil fuel prices, serve the needs of growing populations and facilitate the development of sustainable infrastructure and transportation.
Now the message of a climate emergency is finally hitting home. As international governments and citizens are demanding change - the next decade is going to be massive for solar, wind and hydro. This will offer a huge opportunity for ambitious firms seeking to grow their renewable power portfolios…but first they must solve any urgent people-shaped problems!
Renewable energy - the global state of play
There’s no getting away from it: 2020 was a painful year. Unparalleled in its impact upon people, communities, industry and business. But if you donned a pair of green-tinted glasses, you’ll have spotted the silver lining: the use of fossil fuels fell dramatically across much of the world, while commitments to renewable energy spiked.
2021 has been a record-breaking year for clean energy. A year in which an additional 290 gigawatts of total renewable energy generation was constructed, overtaking the previous year’s grand achievement of 280 gigawatts. And all of this despite the steadily rising costs of the raw materials required to construct wind turbines and solar panels.
Meanwhile, a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) ambitiously announced that renewable sources will account for some 95% of the increase in global power generation over the next five years. Eventually accounting for the same total capacity as fossil fuels and nuclear combined.
The message of climate emergency - as foretold through an unparalleled international education campaign - is finally hitting home. Leading to a steady build of pressure from citizens and global think tanks, in turn pushing countries to embolden their plans; prompting private sector corporate giants to purchase more of their energy solely from renewable sources.
These are exciting times for renewable energy developers, investors, EPCs, consultants...and the planet! The solar, wind and hydro teams here at Coalesce Management Consulting (CMC) are encouraged to witness so much progress made in so little time. We’re cheerleaders for renewable energy and it’s music to the ears to hear so much ambitious talk of net-zero emission targets and descriptions of the power projects that will take us there.
We work extensively across Europe, Asia Pacific and the US. Our unparalleled ability to source and secure the best energy professionals - at all levels - has helped to get many gigawatts of successful projects off the ground, across all of these diverse geographies.
Europe - lessons in leadership
Several EU member states are 10-15 years ahead in their clean energy progress and much of the rest of the world is now playing catch-up.
We’ve supported many of the European leaders towards climate neutrality and the green transformation of our global economy. We’re delighted to see the progress made over the last decade in countries like Germany now serving as a catalyst for the rest of the world.
2020 was a milestone year. The first in which renewable energy sources overtook fossil fuels as the continent’s primary power source. Renewable sources inched ahead to 38% of the energy mix, passing fossil fuels at 37% and ahead of nuclear at 25%, according to the European Commission ‘2021 state of the energy union report.’
Over the last decade we’ve helped companies to take advantage of favorable tax breaks and incentives that have accompanied the green revolution. For example, we were invited to follow clients into Germany to take advantage of the renewables boom. Last year we were delighted to note an impressive 46% of total generation from solar and wind…nearly equalling that of coal, gas, oil and nuclear combined!
CMC consultants not only helped to secure the best people for major German projects. But once the generous incentivisation offers began to dwindle and opportunity shrank, we helped firms to take new skills and experience and follow the market to other parts of the continent and world. The insight gained from our experience with the good, the bad and the windy across Europe then allowed us a foothold with clients in the US and APAC.
The United States of catch-up
While we support the full renewable energy lifecycle, in the US our primary focus to date is the construction management stage of major renewable energy projects. As an example, we’ve supported some 1.5GW of solar projects across the states over the last 18 months.
Every day we speak with the leading IPPs, EPCs, investors and utilities. While we had grown familiar with dealing with large multinationals across Europe, the competitive development landscape in America is different. We’re seeing many smaller, privately owned nationals now aggressively pursuing the ample opportunities and it’s a pleasure to work with them.
After the Trump years of resistance, the winds of change and the bright future of solar power are shaking up the future of US generation. Commitments to keeping fossil fuels in the ground are now being made and renewable energy has been hurled back on the table.
Last year the use of fossil fuels hit the lowest level in almost 30 years...a fall of some nine percent. After taking office in January, President Biden signed a flurry of executive orders, penning into action his ambitious $12 trillion commitment to tackling climate change. The “super-charged” climate plan includes a nationwide green energy infrastructure overhaul, plus the creation of 10 million clean energy related jobs.
The incoming president labelled climate change a ‘national security threat’ and wants to see a carbon-free national energy sector by 2035. This bold posturing, combined with the news that fossil fuel subsidies will be eliminated from federal budgets in 2022, means that - suddenly - a huge amount of work must be done.
We now see boundless potential for solar farms and on/offshore wind projects. In a country that still suffers more energy brownouts than any other developed nation - costing the economy between $18 billion and $33 billion every year - we’re also investigating major prospects for transmission, distribution, and energy storage projects.
The giant land mass and coastal areas of the United States offer huge untapped potential, but there is an urgent demand for the best people to steer the right progress forward. It’s fair to say that the US now faces a situation in which the demand for candidates far exceeds the potential current supply. All this at a time when international travel is still heavily pandemic restricted.
The Asia Pacific outlook
From our offices in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, we’re recognising this urgent need for top talent as a repeated theme across the APAC region. Most countries here are fossil fuel dependent, yet the transition to renewable sources is coming fast. If progression is unhindered, APAC is set to become the major region in renewable-energy development over the next decade, with capacity expected to increase by as much as two terawatts by 2030!
Similar to the US, the growth of renewable energy in APAC’s developing nations has been obstructed by inadequate grid systems and unhelpful policy and regulations. Plus it's been a stretch too far for government budgets to meet the high cost of building and maintaining power plants in geographically challenging areas.
But right now we’re already seeing demand in countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore growing faster than in any other part of the world. Right now, we’re helping international firms - who wish to expand their renewables portfolio across the region - to identify, prepare and bid for the best opportunities. Securing upfront commitment from technically proficient international consultants - of all levels - to join their bidding and project delivery teams for design and build power projects.
In the past the comparatively low technology costs of hydropower have made it the most popular of the clean energy options. But solar and on/offshore wind are projected to be the main focus for governments across APAC as they continue to push renewables agendas and follow the beat of the international drum. As an example, we believe APAC could become the second-biggest offshore wind market due to the strong potential returns on investment and the geographic advantages of some Asian countries.
The people shaped problem
Let’s get back to basics for a moment. Without the right people you can’t invent new ways to generate clean energy. You can’t design innovative solar panels and wind turbines. You can’t finance hugely expensive power schemes and you can’t build, commission and inspect their capability.
During the European boom years, while solar, wind and hydro technologies were in their infancy, it was a struggle for firms to secure the right people. In a candidate-driven marketplace the competition between major design houses, developers or EPC contractors was often intense. Resulting in some firms missing out on major bid opportunities, while others faced costly delays to their ambitious project plans.
We started out in Europe and we have offices all over the world - giving us a head start. Early on we recognised and prepared for the clean energy opportunity - making the right links and relationships with the best power consultants out there. So when the winds of change blew in, we were ready. Helping our clients to secure the very best energy professionals in order to lead this new exciting sector to success - you can find out more about how here.
Now that the opportunities across Europe are receding and once the pandemic restrictions are less draconian, we’re ready to help companies to explore the international prospects. In less surreal times, the energy industry is borderless. And once some post-pandemic normality returns, the many brilliant renewable energy professionals - whose families’ lives we’ve enriched through project opportunity - will knock on our doors for the best relocation opportunities.
In some parts of the world the trials of locating, securing, relocating and keeping the best renewable energy professionals is already challenging CEOs, CFOs, VPs and Construction Directors of major energy projects. While in others, it’s these senior positions themselves that are proving increasingly tough to fill!
Companies across the US and APAC want people of all levels who have managed the successful construction of major renewable projects across Europe. They seek talented consultants who understand the technologies, working practices and communication styles of the major OEMs. And we can help.
Fortunately for our clients, we’ve amassed the right continental contacts and we’re able to source exceptional individuals - and teams of people - whenever and wherever our clients need them. If a skill set is currently harder to come by in one country, we use our deep knowledge of candidates’ financial ambitions, familial considerations and international relocation experience to sharpen an attractive package. Which means we secure them rapidly, avoiding costly delays.
Now that bold commitments to keeping fossil fuels in the ground and fighting climate change are less talk and more action, it’s vital that people-power - or perhaps a lack of it - does not become a bottleneck. The planet cannot afford to see delays to many more major renewable energy schemes. We must not allow any people shaped problems to push back on the window of opportunity now jarred open.
Get in touch today!
With our deep technical knowledge of the energy sector, the truly bespoke service that we offer and unrivalled relationships with the best renewable energy consultants nurtured across mature renewable energy markets. Coalesce Management Consulting is perfectly positioned to support any offshore and onshore solar, wind or battery storage projects on the green, decarbonised horizon.
To find out more about how we do things differently and understand how we have become a tried and trusted name in solving the people problems of major renewable energy outfits contact us today.