By 2030, the global renewable energy market is estimated to reach a valuation of $1,977.6 billion, according to industry experts. This equates to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) growth of 8.4% between 2021 and 2030.
It’s not surprising then, that there is a growing number of renewable energy entrepreneurs everywhere around the world. There are enormous opportunities within green energy, from finding new ways to generate electricity to seeking out solutions for local problems.
But is becoming a renewable energy entrepreneur a viable career trajectory for everyone? What do you need to know? And what challenges could be in your way? Here Stuart Gentry explains what aspiring renewable energy entrepreneurs need to know.
Defining renewable energy for a greener future
Renewable – or ‘clean’ – energy generally derives from all natural sources that can self-replenish. So, we’re talking about harnessing the wind to generate electricity or finding new ways to use solar, geothermal, hydropower, bioenergy or even the power of the oceans themselves.
The most recent figures show that renewable energy accounts for approximately 8% of global demand for energy. And while most Governments have, at one time or another, announced their intention to develop future-proofed resources to lower pollution levels and provide renewable energy, the reality is there are many barriers to effective progress.
For example, there is a general fear of nuclear energy that has led to many efficient renewable energy resources being shut down. Furthermore, the level of investment needed to change infrastructure, along with the need to train and maintain a sufficient workforce, leads to slow progress.
All of which leaves a gap for entrepreneurial minds to switch their attention to the need to find as many ways to create new renewable energy resources.
Examples of renewable energy start-ups
Entrepreneurs have been working away on finding solutions to the clean energy crisis for years. And while the fallout from the pandemic slowed down some of the innovation in this space, there are lots of examples of start-ups that are making waves.
For example, US-based Solstice has a clear mission statement – to provide solar powered energy to every American through community solar gardens that people can connect to. Another renewable energy start-up in the US is EcoFlow, one of the myriad ecotech companies that are helping people to access sustainable energy. EcoFlow designs and makes portable power stations, accessories and solar panels so that people can use them on the go.
In the UK, the Government pledged £11 million funding for the latest round of Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF). This funding goes towards start-ups that are working on improving energy efficiency in people’s houses, reducing emissions and sourcing cleaner sources. Since 2012, the EEF has paid out £72 million in grants for renewable energy entrepreneurs.
What you need to know as a renewable energy entrepreneur
The reality is Stuart Gentry says, there will always be a need for entrepreneurial skillsets when it comes to fixing the climate crisis. The world is in a perilous state and needs fast and innovative changes to be made at a fundamental level.
All of these concerns are creating a convergence of ideas from all kinds of sectors that are focusing on socially conscious solutions. This includes consumers, businesses, investors and Governments.
If this is an area of interest for you as an entrepreneur, I would always advise starting within your own area of interest and expertise. Applying innovative solutions to the problems you know exist already is a great way to formulate a business idea.
Becoming an effective and successful renewable energy entrepreneur isn’t about building enormous infrastructure to generate energy. There is also a need for ideas surrounding distribution of energy, its storage and conservation.
Think about what consumers want
While the need for true sustainability should unite us all, statistics show that consumers are looking for the same thing that they do from anything – individual benefit at the lowest possible cost.
This is partly why the market for green energy is still relatively small – and far smaller than it needs to be to reach the global targets for emissions. This means that any sustainable energy entrepreneurs must factor in the need to widely market the product or service in order to prove to consumers that it will add value to their lives.
Of course, it’s not just the individual consumer that you need to convince. At the development stage of your project, you need to factor in the role that distributors, suppliers and financial institutions will play.
Create a workable business plan
As you would with any other start-up, it’s important to scope out your direct and indirect competition. Find out if there are other innovators out there that are already offering something that is similar to your green energy idea.
Market research is absolutely key, and this should include a thorough cost analysis, extensive revenue projections and laying out major milestones for the launch and development of the business.
Landing finance for your green start-up
There are various avenues for financing start-ups but it’s worth noting that around 90% of entrepreneurs are willing to invest their own savings into their business idea to start with.
This will showcase how much you believe in your start-up, which in turn may attract other investors. As I mentioned earlier, there are generally sources of financing by Governments specifically for sustainable energy start-ups.
Other options include VC investors and angel investors, which tend to be difficult to land. I’d always advise attempting to secure some Government funding in the renewable energy field, as this is something that is available around the world.
Stuart Gentry – the bottom line for clean energy entrepreneurs
As with any start-up, you’ll need to have a clear idea, a workable business plan and a way to source investment. But it is a great time to expand your entrepreneurial outlook into this space right now, as the demand for new solutions will only continue to increase.
About Stuart Gentry
Stuart Gentry is a consultant in the renewables industry and has been involved in numerous projects to reduce the damages of climate change.