A climate of change fuels growth in energy market

If I were to say that April 21, 2017 marked a momentous occasion in the history of not just the UK, but globally, I’m sure many people would be puzzled. For most, it was a regular Friday in a long list of Fridays in which nothing extraordinary happened. But something remarkable did happen—something that hadn’t happened in 135 years. It was the first full day since January 1882 in which no coal was used to generate electricity in the UK.1

The event, heralded for its significance by both Greenpeace UK and the WWF, may only be one step in the very long and arduous journey to transforming the UK’s power generation portfolio, but it represents a much wider trend of change, and disruption, in the energy industry.

Indeed, according to the International Energy Agency, renewable sources—including solar, wind, and hydro—accounted for a quarter of global electricity generation in 2017.2 That is obviously a step in the right direction from a climate change perspective, but perhaps more importantly, it is also great news for consultants.

Combined with higher commodity prices and a rise in digitisation demand, the transition to renewables has generated a surge in consulting opportunities in the energy market, with renewable newcomers looking to upscale their operations and incumbents trying to develop and roll out their own renewable generation strategies. As a result, the energy industry consulting market grew by an impressive 5.9% in 2017—a great improvement on the much more subdued 1.6% in 2016. And the really good news for consultants is that there is more to come.

Not only is the increased focus on renewables already generating strategy and business transformation opportunities around portfolio diversification, but there is also a growing interest in understanding how all these changes will impact on the industry’s workforce and its value chain. And consultants in the renewables space tell us that they are also starting to see new opportunities around related technologies including battery storage and distributed generation both from within and outside the energy industry.

1Georgia Brown, British power generation achieves first ever coal-free day, The Guardian, Apr. 22, 2017 (accessed Dec. 13, 2018). Available at: www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/21/britain-set-for-first-coal-free-day-since-the-industrial-revolution.
2International Energy Agency, Global Energy & CO2 Status Report (accessed Dec. 18, 2018). Available at www.iea.org/geco/renewables/.