The Renewables Energy Market : trends, outlook and an expert recruiter’s view

Much of recent focus has been on short-term impacts and extraordinary events. For this piece we spoke with Brunel’s Renewables expert, Michika Garton. We asked Michika : how has the Renewable Energy market changed in the last 12-18 months and what are the underlying recruitment trends?

Brunel’s Renewable Consultant, Michika Garton, has been focused solely on the renewables energy sector for the last 6 years across Asia and The Americas. She explains 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

Michika says, “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 states “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 energies are 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. 

Project constructions seeing slowdowns (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. Construction may be under pressure to achieve Q3 milestones after some States’ shelter-in-place orders are lifted. That could make it a busy summer for projects trying to catch up.”

Resilient renewables

Q2 will prove to be a difficult time for many energy companies who have seen demand collapse. Since Renewables companies have delivered a much smaller proportion of energy in the USA, they are for the most part, 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.

Candidate opportunities

Many commissioned plants supported by Brunel are operating with a “business-as-usual” mindset and 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.

Michika explains “Many of the clients I work with are moving forward, albeit a little slower this month. We are adapting to the situation and even getting a little creative! Renewables 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 in the US appears secure. 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 State and Federal policies, the multiple deadlines for companies to meet the Federal Production Tax Credit requirements, plus an upcoming election in November 2020 – all of which could see changes by the end of 2020/2021. Each sector has its own challenges whether its 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 the State level.  For example: Massachusetts recently decided to double the capacity of a state incentive program to support the solar industry. Virginia’s Governor has signed an Act2 to promote more solar and onshore wind projects. The clean energy sector is moving forward and expanding.

Unexpected consequences

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. 

 

For questions on upcoming projects, hiring needs or career advice, please reach out to Brunel's renewable energy expert. 

Michika Garton

Recruitment Consultant

+1 (832) 564-2868