Monday, 29 September 2008

Carbon Forum UK

Last week Debby Lloyd spoke at Carbon Forum UK. Below is a ‘brain dump’ of her lasting impressions from the event.


A personal view – it’s always when you attend these events that the gravity of the situation hits you all over again.

In my own presentation I emphasised the complexity of the corporate situation where everyone used different words and phrases to tackle “carbon” and the huge range and scope of projects that are tackled. It’s not difficult but it is hugely complex because all of the subjects below touch on every aspect of our businesses today.

Some salient points made by some of the “thought leaders” present:-

The Corporate Leadership Group feel more ambitious Government targets to drive improvements should have been set – the current 8% level they felt was lacking in “bite”. I asked the question about visibility at “CFO” level on the upcoming CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment). The general consensus was 8% reduction could easily be lost on the balance sheet of major corporates and therefore it wasn’t visible.

Concerns also about “adaptation” and how to take things “beyond carbon”
CDP6 was launched in the USA with 70% of the world’s largest financial companies responding this time.

A demand for increase in the amount of policy to drive positive investment, but they do not want punitive policy and there was concern over the amount of corporate red tape already in place.
Institutional investors are currently very concerned about the sustainability aspects of their investments and the impact on company value behind negative performance and publicity
Carbon Reduction Commitment launch – targeting the entities responsible for 10% of the total UK emissions landscape – provoked discussion around the “two tier” system that was clearly emerging.

On Energy Management EN16001 - the new European energy management standard, due to be launched mid 2009. BSi are piloting early movers next year. Regarding energy audit/surveys – the UK are taking a lead on developing the new European standards. The new international energy management standard ISO 500001 will supersede the European standard.

There are some interesting discussions happening in the US on “world population”.

Lots going on in the world of Smart Metering – if you can’t measure it you can’t improve it and there is a big problem with measurement.

Doubt as to whether oil demand (if it continues rising at its current rate) will not be met come 2011.

University of Liverpool are now offering an oil dependency Audit.

Some interesting “world legal” dynamics – seeing a transition in the UK from “deterrent environmental law” (i.e. standards and penalties for breach –v- “behavioural change law” e.g. CRC.

Some technology challenges, for example in Waste to Energy – overcoming the emerging technologies which transfer waste outside of the waste stream once processed. Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) – concerns as to the speed of evolution.

Education – University of East Anglia have the first Carbon Management MBA – it’s fully subscribed.

Skills – there are skills shortages but corporates are just not being flexible enough in an emerging and disparate skills marketplace and are holding out for the perfect experience and skills-set that simply doesn’t exist in volume. Environmental qualifications are all very well but without the commercial bottom line translation skills and cross functional project management ability there’s a real risk to progress. What of career progression and longevity too? It’s a bit like the millennium bug rush. Once it’s done - what next?

The Carbon Forum UK website will be officially launched in January 2009. For further information contact Jeremy Blow of Zeno Communications Ltd via

Feel free to give your thoughts on any of these points below in the comments section.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Entering the renewable energy market – transferring skills and experience into the industry

Today Steven Rogers will be looking at the industry verticals that may offer Renewable Energy companies the skill sets they seek.


Securing employment in the renewable energy market is hard to beat as a profession: engineers love the technology, investors receive fantastic returns from socially responsible investments, developers cannot get projects off the ground quickly enough and carbon, in its many guises, is set to be the most traded commodity in the city.

The industry is also being driven forcefully forward by a number of mechanisms from government push to consumer pull, stakeholder demands and competitive pressure. Our government has layers of legislation in place to force and reward the expansion of this industry e.g. the Carbon Reduction Commitment (
Carbon Trust) and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). 60% of end consumers state that they are more likely to buy a product or a service with a low carbon footprint. There is pressure from company stakeholders for companies to disclose their financial risk to climate change and up to 40% of CEOs perceive global warming to be a threat to business growth (Financial Express).

This style boom ( is our pet name for it) has a number of upshots. The one I will focus on here is the human capital challenge – how do we increase the size of our teams quickly enough to meet this growth from such a limited talent pool?

There is further good news for our industry - there are more than enough people raising their hands to join these companies! We do have a problem though… Many of the people are highly skilled and highly experienced, but their expertise lies in other industries. This brings me to what I hold to be the answer - transferable skills.

Engineering in the renewable energy industry is a good example of my point. Many engineering companies I speak with would like to hire systems design engineers with x years experience in designing integrated, on-grid, renewable energy systems. These people do exist, but they are rare, typically happy where they are and well tied into their current employer. There is often little reason for them to move.

How then, do you grow your design team?

Do you hire untested personnel and train in-house? Can you get post-graduates in to help with a project which, in turn, assists them with their thesis? Ultimately, do you let the problem become a bottle-neck for your business’ growth?

No, you capitalise of the wealth of experienced people wanting to get into the industry but to whom the door is currently closed. But, which industries provide transferable skills?

From my experience working with electrical design engineers in the building services environment, their skills can be easily advanced to incorporate micro-renewable energy technologies, plus the time needed to do so is minimal. Let’s benefit from this volume of experience, provide training on specific products and grow our businesses.

A second industry example is the automotive industry. I recently recruited an individual straight of out a car manufacturer. There he was a lead mechanical design engineer working with CAD. A department focusing on renewable energy now has him joining their design team, with the aim of promoting him quickly to lead a design team.

There are other industries too - what options do engineers in the aerospace industry offer? We also have our well established ‘big brother’, Oil and Gas, where can we benefit from their experience?

I believe that we must seriously consider the option of recruiting from parallel industries because of the required growth speed within our industry. I think this can be achieved through two main avenues; firstly companies need to be more open minded about transferable skills into the industry and secondly individuals wanting to charge industry verticals also need to demonstrate their commitment to do so. This could be demonstrated through further education or becoming involved with technologies on a local level. Courses that we have success stories from include the Centre of Alternative Technology (
CAT) and Loughborough (Loughborough) but there are many more superb courses available.

Stating that you are a keen recycler is not enough!

In my next blog post I will look more specifically at how a change of industry can be accomplished and how to identify transferable skills.

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Friday, 19 September 2008

Day 5: “A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”

This week Clare Buxton has been looking at how to manage the talent shortage in the Wind Energy sector, whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired. Sadly, we’ve come to the end of this series, so here’s a quick summary of the points we’ve covered.

In Summary: Problem Solved?

Well, probably not quite solved, but certainly identified. And we’ve made a few suggestions along the way as to how to overcome the talent shortage, if you’re an employer, and make the most of your skills, if you’re an industry professional.

There’s a wealth of opportunity out there, and currently more growth than the current talent pool can deal with. It’s a great time to be in the industry if you’re already established, but also if you’re up and coming. New projects and new development exercises will make room for new players, onshore, offshore, residential and merchant based. Not a week goes by when we don’t here about new wind projects being granted consents and permission, and further investment going into the sector. Just last week we read this article talking about massive investment and cooperation between E.ON and Siemens.

We’re not the only ones who have recently commented on this challenge. Michael Liebreich, the chairman and chief executive of New Energy Finance was recently quoted in Renewable Energy World (May-June 2008), saying “There is strong momentum behind the growth of clean energy worldwide, with new investment up nearly fivefold between 2004 and 2007, but this is creating shortages not just of components such as silicon and transport infrastructure, but also of human capital.”

I hope these thoughts have given you something to think about as we all try to move forward and tackle the talent shortage in the wind energy sector. Perhaps the ideas and suggestions we’ve made will give you at least one new thing to try to help you deal with the situation. So, let the wind in to your sails, and let’s make some energy!

Follow Clare on twitter so that you always know what’s blowing in the wind energy space:

We would love to hear your thoughts on this series so please feel free to leave comments.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Day 4: “A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”

This week Clare Buxton is looking at how to manage the talent shortage in the Wind Energy sector, whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired. Today, we take a look from an individual’s perspective. How do you use the talent shortage to your advantage?


What professionals working in the space can do

The burning question, another one that EcoSearch hears frequently, is:

“How do I make the most of my rare skills in the Wind Industry?”

This isn’t quite so hard to answer, and guess what? Here are a few suggestions:

If you’re a professional in this space and you’re looking to forward your career, there are, without any doubt, multiple opportunities and many possible avenues:
  • Companies need to be smart and look after you to keep your loyalty; but equally every member of the team is an important aspect in creating and managing a good working culture and thriving business.
  • Review your goals regularly, and if you’re concerned about the direction your career is taking you, take the time to sit down with your manager and work out the best career path for you. If the company you’re with can’t offer it to you, take a look at the wider industry space – there’s a lot going on out there!
  • Work with a recruiter or head hunter (well I would say that wouldn’t I?!) because they will be able to get you access to companies which fit your requirements and career plans. If they’re any good, they’ll spend time getting to know you and be able to introduce you confidentially to the companies you are most interested in, without having to stick your CV highly visibly on a job-board.
  • In my experience, the wind industry is incredibly incestuous, so it’s good to have a third party representation that can help you navigate the market place. That’s what we’re here for, after all!

To stay up to date with what projects EcoSearch is working on, follow Katharine Robinson on Twitter: She sends out updates on Renewable Energy News, Web 2.0 and EcoSearch News.

Tune in tomorrow for the last post in our series “A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Day 3: “A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”

This week Clare Buxton is looking at how to manage the talent shortage in the Wind Energy sector, whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired. We’ve established what and why, but how do we proactively manage it?


What companies can do

The burning question, another one that EcoSearch hears frequently, is:

“How do we overcome the talent shortage?”

I wish I had an easy answer. Here are a few suggestions:

If you represent a company and want to build your team:

  • Draw on international experience – in the UK we often suffer from an island mentality, but there is life out there… We need to be attracting talent from Europe, the USA and Asia to come and work with us in the UK. If you’re in Europe, think cross-border. This is a global market.
  • Work hard at building an attractive and welcoming work culture to position yourself favourably against your competitors. Gen X and Gen Y are sucked in by a “fun place to work” and “a good culture fit” – it is fundamental to attracting and retaining the best talent out there.
  • Work on building good training programmes. It’s easy to want to “skip over” the training piece, but if you have an expertise centre with a career track to train and improve your staff, it will become easier to hire individuals who aren’t already the finished article, but who could become that expert you are looking for in 6 months or 1 year.
  • Work with a recruitment professional who understands the industry, and can help to promote your brand, as well as scope the talent pool confidentially. (That’s where we come in…)

Tune in tomorrow to find suggestions for industry professionals looking to get hired that will help you get to the next rung on the EcoLadder.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Day 2: “A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”

This week Clare Buxton is looking at how to manage the talent shortage in the Wind Energy sector, whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired. Yesterday we established that the shortage really does exist, but what’s causing it? 


 So why is there a talent shortage in the industry? 

  • Well, firstly it is a new industry, especially in our home territory, the UK.  Realistically we have 7 or 8 years of experience to draw upon. In other European countries – noticeably Denmark, Germany and Spain – and the USA there is slightly more maturity.  
  • Secondly, the market is growing extremely quickly.  There are new positions being created every day. Every major organisation committed to becoming a leading player in this space is building and strengthening teams, launching new divisions, opening new offices, and requiring the man power to do so.
  • Until very recently, the Renewable Energy industry has been a sector which has struggled to attract new talent from a compensation perspective, especially in comparison to it’s big dirty brother, Oil and Gas.  The oil and gas industry has a lot of transferable skills to offshore Wind and a plethora of talented engineers but they pay well and know how to retain staff.  Fair play to them, but it has traditionally made it harder for us to compete.
  • Engineering in itself seems to be suffering a generational crisis.  Engineers are an aging breed.  New blood is starting to pump through, but there is a distinct gap in the middle. Where are all the engineers with 10 years or so experience?  (If that’s you, please let me know, you’re wanted!) 

The burning question, another one that EcoSearch hears frequently, is: 

“How do we overcome the talent shortage?”  

And I wish I had an easy answer.  Over the next two days I will be making a few suggestions.  Tune in tomorrow to find suggestions that will help you overcome the talent shortage if you represent a company looking to hire.  

Don’t forget to subscribe by RSS to never miss an update. 

Monday, 15 September 2008

Day 1: “A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”

Over the next five days Clare Buxton will be looking at how to manage the talent shortage in the Wind Energy sector, whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired.


Is the Shortage Real? Yes!

My work activity is dedicated to identifying key individuals and emerging talent in the Wind Energy market. For the past 6 months the rapid growth of the industry has allowed me to focus my attention to the development of the Wind Energy sector, and since April I have barely come up for air! Day in and day out, I build relationships with these individuals to understand what makes them tick, and to understand what skill sets they possess and wish to develop; I help them to grow their career in a direction that benefits them, but that will also benefit the clients I work with – developers, consultancies and manufacturers – to achieve their goals as well. And ambitious goals, at that.

One thing is very clear: there genuinely is a talent shortage in the Wind Energy industry. The market is growing at 20-25% a year. One of the major wind turbine manufacturers told me that to retain their market share in 2020 their turbines would need to be generating 10 times as much energy. This increased activity will mean they need to hire 100s of executives and technical specialists (as well as more junior staff) over the next few years. This industry is massively incentivised by government targets, environmental and scientific debates, as well as a general excitement and buzz around the potential of developing a sustainable future.

But do we have the global skill-sets to keep up?

Are there enough qualified professionals to allow every company contributing to the wind energy sector to experience the growth they are planning for?

There is no shortage of recent graduates and seasoned professionals from other disciplines who want to get into the industry. We receive many unsolicited CVs and emails from MSc graduates and engineers, as well as business developers, from turbo-machinery or traditional power generation backgrounds, telecommunications and aerospace. There is nothing more attractive than a thriving and recession-proof industry. But the real difficulty that organisations in our space are facing is that they all believe they “need” experienced individuals who have been there and seen that, and know what to do when X scenario happens, or Y scenario occurs. The market is moving at such a pace that companies do not feel they have the time to train someone from scratch (however promising they may seem).

“We need them now and we need them ready to roll”

This is a phrase we are accustomed to hearing in the EcoSearch office! But why is there a talent shortage? Tomorrow we take a closer look…

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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

EcoSearch’s First 'Dot Green' Blog Post

Like many firsts this one has been avidly anticipated, but by who?

Those who knew it was coming of course! Those of us most acutely aware of this blog launch work in the EcoSearch office. We like to consider ourselves expert consultants in our various ‘green’ fields.

Take a moment to meet the team that will be regular contributors to the blog and find out their areas of expertise: 

Clare - Wind and Solar Energy

Debby – Green IT and Marine Renewables

Katharine  – Using Web2.0 to get your EcoJob

Mark – Sustainability and Climate Change Consulting

Steven – Carbon Markets & Low Carbon Technologies 

Guests – The people we meet every day working to make our world a cleaner place

Coming up over the next couple of weeks:

Our first posts will form a 5 day series discussing the talent shortage in the wind energy industry:

“A Working Week to Solve the Wind Energy Talent Shortage”

Clare Buxton, our resident expert, will take you through the issues step by step. Whether you are a company hiring or someone already working in the industry looking to be hired, you will find something here to help. The series begins on Monday 15th September.

Stay tuned for more exciting and helpful content from our other industry experts.

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