Registering returns: opportunities within clean energy

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Think of renewable energy and I’ll bet you good money that your first thought is of longhaired hippies in baggy trousers.

Yes, the stigma, really does still stick. But here’s the thing. The market’s moved on. And while you’ve been looking the other way, it’s gotten all grown up.

Take the UK’s booming offshore wind industry for example. The sector has not only kick started a whole swathe of manufacturing and engineering technology up and down the UK coast, it’s also started to make a significant and very real contribution to UK energy demand.

Or similarly, take a look at the rapid expansion within the international developer scene. Here, small, entrepreneurial teams are not only pushing through significant wind, solar and biomass ventures but perhaps more importantly – are generating some impressive cash returns along the way.

Make no mistake – this market is on the move. And those tie-dyed trousers have been quickly ditched for sharp suits – particularly as the City takes a look.

And for the automotive sector, this matters. More than ever. Why?

In short, because if this impressive growth trajectory is to continue, lessons must be learnt. And none more so than from those currently working in the automotive market.

It’s all perfectly understandable, of course. For, ever since Henry Ford started to mass-produce the famous Model T, the automotive sector has continually refined the way in which its production, testing, shipping and delivery cycle works.

It’s an evolution that’s taken shape over one hundred years and in the process, it’s created some significant engineering efficiencies.

The Jaguar Land Rover facility in Halewood is a case in point – with over 4,000 staff employed at the site and with production of the Range Rover Evoque having recently switched to run 24 hours, in order to meet demand.

However, that’s not the only thing that this constant period of manufacturing and engineering refinement has produced.

It’s also created some titans of industry. Powerful individuals. People who have learnt the trade from the ground up and that, in many cases, now sit behind some of the world’s most aspirational brands.

And these individuals are very interesting, since many of them are now in the process of looking for new challenges and new markets. And suddenly, the potential of renewable energy – perhaps more importantly, its potentially positive impact on the automotive sector – becomes clear.

Teaching these new dogs the old manufacturing and engineering tricks isn’t about eroding market share. And it’s not a waste of time either.

Moreover, it suddenly presents a very real chance to capitalise on new markets and new industries – diversifying product and service portfolios and generating additional profits and revenue streams, to boot.

In this respect, those fine folk at the likes of Rolls Royce and David Brown have already started to show the way, with service sector upstarts like Romax Technology quick to follow suit.

And as the partnerships and new projects continue to stack up, the divide between the renewable energy market and the automotive sector continues to be ruthlessly pulled down.

Sure, they’ll always be differences. And sure, the interests of both sectors will never fully be aligned.

However, as the wind and solar markets battle to streamline production output, diversify global manufacturing footprints and reduce the time between factory output and sale, you can’t help but see a link.

And with those tie-dyed trousers now safely stashed away, I’d wager that those businesses that establish partnerships with their clean energy cousins early, will be the real long-term winners.

No bad thing. Particularly given that the lessons learnt in any partnership don’t just go one way.


Adam and his team provide counsel and advice to ambitious businesses operating in the financial services and energy space.

He is the publisher of A Word About Wind and the founder of Tamarindo Communications.

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