Berwick Partners were delighted to host a select group of senior investors from the Renewable Energy industry at its central London offices for lunch this week.
The discussion was timely. We are now six months on from the election, and the Paris Climate Change Conference is just around the corner. Whilst there are many opportunities for growth and a clear need for a diverse energy mix, the UK’s energy sector is facing unprecedented challenge.
Until recently, we have been recognised by the World Energy Council (WEC) as a leader in energy policy but our reputation is changing and huge inconsistencies are restricting investment. It was felt that Government’s decision to withdraw subsidies for onshore wind and large-scale solar power was very short sighted (especially as these are among the cheapest options for hitting the renewables target!), deterring investors and alienating the UK from the world energy stage. There have been more than 1,000 job losses in Britain’s solar industry in recent weeks, and our trade association has warned that 27,000 of the remaining 35,000 are at risk.
So, what is the answer?
- The VC community say that it is crucial to put themselves in the place of their client when pitching for funding and think about what is important to them i.e. money! Stable cash flow, low construction risk, etc. are huge advantages for renewables, versus that of many infrastructure assets.
- Continuous innovation is paramount - would “unbundling” energy provision (in the manner that Freeview affected the telecommunications industry) connect electricity producers and consumers more effectively and facilitate direct access to cheaper energy?
- Distributed energy schemes - the benefits of decentralised generation include faster deployment of low carbon technologies, enhanced local security of supply, savings in network costs and losses, and wider community participation in energy supply. This trend is allowing new business models to evolve.
We were all in agreement that sensible cuts should be applied where necessary, however to avoid complete inertia over the next 36 months, a clear Government message must happen!
This event was run and managed by Victoria Jordan, Head of the Energy Practice at Berwick Partners, based in Manchester but with a national remit. She was joined by Marisa Williams, Principal Consultant in the Financial Management Practice at Berwick Partners, who specialises in recruiting senior finance roles across the Energy sector.