In the wake of COP28, the renewable energy sector faces monumental challenges to achieve ambitious goals like reaching 11000 gigawatts by 2030. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mindy Prefling, Associate Director here at Spencer Ogden, to discuss these challenges.
These challenges are not just about the technical and infrastructural aspects, but also significantly hinge on the availability of skilled talent. The need to carefully examine the impact on talent following COP28 is crucial, especially given the extensive nature of renewable energy projects. These projects involve significant financial investments, often in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and require many technically skilled individuals.
The Talent Challenge in Renewables
Mindy highlights how scaling up to 11000 gigawatts is an immense task, essentially doubling current capacities. The main hurdle in reaching this goal is securing enough skilled talent. And that’s not only for constructing renewable energy projects – it's also for developing the necessary infrastructure around them, such as interconnection and transmission systems. This adds an extra layer of complexity, requiring even more specialised, technically skilled professionals.
Renewable Energy in the US Market
Seeing it first-hand, Prefling spoke on how, in the U.S. market, a major challenge is found in the development phase of renewable energy projects. The scarcity of talent in this crucial early phase obstructs the ability to establish a strong project pipeline. This phase is vital as it sets the foundation for subsequent construction and implementation efforts.
Economic Impacts on the Renewable Energy Sector and Recruitment
Despite its growth trajectory, Mindy highlights how the renewable energy sector isn’t immune to broader economic influences including politics, legislation, supply chain issues, and rising costs. These kinds of factors create market uncertainties, which in turn affect the confidence of the talent market. During economic volatility, professionals are hesitant to transition careers, further exacerbating the talent shortage in the renewable energy industry.
Strategies for Attracting Talent to Renewables
New and effective strategies for attracting talent to the renewable energy sector have been observed, particularly at the college level. Numerous companies are actively engaging with universities, organising tabling events on campuses, and forming partnerships to generate interest in renewable energy careers among students. Prefling speaks on how these efforts play a crucial role in sparking enthusiasm in new entrants about the possibilities of participating in the energy transition.
Spencer Ogden's Role in Talent Transition
Spencer Ogden, a firm at the forefront of this industry, addresses the challenge of transitioning talent from traditional energy sectors to renewables through a consultative approach with clients. They work to identify where skill set flexibility exists and explore parallel industries for potential talent. Additionally, they’ve launched a podcast featuring industry thought leaders discussing various hiring strategies and goals, including bringing diversity into the renewable energy sector.
The primary challenge post-COP28 lies in making sense of ambitious goals and creating executable plans. However, the aspect of talent acquisition often comes into play late in the process, leading to project delays. The renewable energy sector must adopt a proactive approach to hiring talent to mitigate future slowdowns and meet set goals. As an industry, we must continue building strategies that not only attract but also retain and develop talent capable of driving the energy transition forward.
If you’ve found this article useful and would like to hear more of what Mindy has to say on the effects of COP28’s commitments on talent, you can dive deeper with our latest report, Powering the Energy Transition.
You can listen to Mindy's full interview here! 👇🏼
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