Much of the recent focus in the Renewable Energy industry has been on short-term impacts and extraordinary events worldwide. We sat down with Brunel’s Renewable Energy expert, Michika Garton, to learn how the Renewable Energy market has changed in the past 12-18 months and what underlying recruitment trends we can expect in the near future.
Brunel’s Renewable Consultant, Michika Garton, has focused exclusively on the Renewable Energy sector for the last 6 years — so much so that her clients and contractors regularly contact her to inquire about the future of the market and the status of upcoming roles.
A pause on some financial investment in renewables
“In April 2020, the equity supply hit pause on financing for several projects, but there has also been a lot of M&A activity, and that’s proving to be hugely positive for contractors,” she said. “While some new projects waiting for financing have stalled, financial activities that were already in the pipeline are continuing.”
The financial calculations underpinning investment decisions in traditional energy projects are strong impacted by energy prices. Renewable energy is only used for a small percentage of automotive energy supply, so have been less impacted. This insulation from unpredictable market fluctuations is likely to make renewable energy projects more attractive for future investment, she explained.
Project constructions seeing slowdowns — but not all due to Covid-19
On the project side, several renewable projects undergoing construction in wind, solar power and renewable natural gas (RNG) have experienced a slowdown, with a short-term reduction in hiring for construction roles. With import/export slowing, as well as regular cyclical weather events causing construction delays and downtimes, this has slowed down some of the logistics and supply chain roles Michika has delivered on previously.
“I’ve seen this annual slowdown before: construction is impacted by tropical storms and other major weather events," she said. "Construction may be under pressure to achieve Q3 milestones after some shelter-in-place orders are lifted. That could make it a busy summer for projects trying to catch up.”
Q2 will prove to be a difficult time for many energy companies who have seen demand collapse. Since Renewable Energy companies have delivered a much smaller proportion of energy in the USA, for example, they are somewhat less impacted by the current slowdown. As energy demand increases, renewables companies will be revitalized along with all energy companies.
Michika sees this as an opportunity for hiring managers at renewable energy companies: “As traditional oil and gas get squeezed, and re-calibrate the value of their labor downwards, renewables will start to look like an even more attractive career path for all sorts of people – from project managers, planners/schedulers, construction workers – right up to the top level C-suite roles that bring much-needed experience."
Many commissioned plants supported by Brunel are operating with a “business-as-usual” mindset and are looking to expand. Positions such as Operations & Maintenance and Commissioning are key job profiles for the renewables industry. With skill sets similar to equivalent roles in the oil and gas industry, there are definitely opportunities for candidates looking to switch industries.
“Many of the clients I work with are moving forward, albeit a little slower this month," Michika explained. "We are adapting to the situation and even getting a little creative! Renewable energy projects come under 'Construction, Manufacturing and Energy' as essential businesses for the US, so there’s room to keep moving.”
The longer view (and mid-term optimism)
The long-term future for the Renewable industry appears secure in many regions. The underlying long-term trend sees a shift to renewable energy sources as a greater proportion of energy production. The midterm future is challenged by many hard-to-predict external factors, such as short-term governmental policies and upcoming elections – all of which could see changes by the end of 2020/2021. Each sector has its own challenges, whether it's Wind, Solar, Waste-to-Resources, Hydropower or Energy Storage. Each of these renewable energy categories is working towards ways to continue to thrive.
Large oil and gas operators see the need to have some focus on green initiatives. Companies such as Shell and BP have allocated resources to develop green initiatives in order to meet Net Zero carbon production goals within this century. These efforts are supported at governmental levels. The clean energy sector is moving forward and expanding.
One of the unexpected yet positive consequences of Covid-19, has been the impact of reduced emissions globally. There are numerous examples of the ways that nature has recovered. The future benefits offered by a sustainable green energy have been glimpsed, and it is unlikely that current generations will allow the window to be fully closed.
Looking for a job in Renewable Energy?
As the renewable energy industry grows, so does the demand for talent to work within it, bringing exciting new career prospects. The opportunities are there, but working with an experienced partner like Brunel is essential to landing your dream role. Ready to get started?