How addressing the green energy skills gap can accelerate decarbonisation

November 13, 2023

Elena Bou, Executive Board Member & Innovation Director, InnoEnergy, explores how overcoming the current green energy skills gap can transform the green economy.

For many sectors, from energy to industrials, 2023 is on track to be a defining year as the global energy transition intensifies.

In fact, research produced using a sample covering more than half the world’s population confirms that over 60% of people surveyed said they are ready to accept the economic, cultural, and social changes necessary to drive long-term sustainability.

To reach climate neutrality by 2050, the transition to the new green economy is critical, but are we really prepared? Immediate responses to energy security issues since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine somewhat dialed back near-term progress on decarbonisation, and as energy security remains a priority, barriers towards a fully sustainable future also persist.

Tackling the green energy skills gap together

At the heart of the solution will be innovation and a reskilled workforce that can bring forward solutions at the pace and scale required to drive change.

However, according to a poll early this year by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which surveyed 12,500 businesses and 685 authorities, more than 80% of companies and 60% of local authorities said a skills shortage prevents projects that target climate change. This was particularly true for the engineering and digital sectors.

Overcoming the green energy skills gap is required as we transition from an old economy into a brand new one, and the reality of that means reshaping traditional roles. For example, an ICE engine mechanic today may need to be an electric battery engineer tomorrow.

We must anticipate the skill requirements of this green economy and commit to robust initiatives that will drive training and development. This means that businesses partnering with local training providers and stakeholders must develop the training programmes needed for the energy transition.

Building opportunities for today and tomorrow

It also means creating opportunities for tomorrow’s green workforce. Industry collaboration to identify new areas of growth for hard-to-abate industries will be a key component of this.

Take green hydrogen. The price increase of green steel or CO2-free fertiliser in end products is around 1%, but it could reduce emissions by 30-40%. So, the viability of cost versus reward is clear.

The sector is ready for this market gap to be filled. The EU’s Fit for 55 plan requires companies using hydrogen to replace at least 50% of that with renewable hydrogen by 2030. REPowerEUaims for around 30% of primary steel production in the EU to be decarbonised by 2030 using green hydrogen.

These initiatives, together with the pressing need to improve energy security, are creating positive market conditions for innovators and startups that focus on green hydrogen applications in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise.

TBB 2023: A catalyst for the green economy

This is just one example of many emerging and evolving sectors that will be part of the global decarbonisation journey. Behind all of them, though, is the next generation of sustainable tech startups.

That’s why, over a decade ago, we created The Business Booster (TBB): an event where innovative entrepreneurs come together with industry stakeholders to explore collaboration to help them scale-up sustainably.

Every year, many of the 150+ sustainable energy innovations on show are of the disruptive technologies of tomorrow but present tangible scale-up solutions now to have an immediate impact.

This article originally appeared with our media partner Innovation News Network on 11 October. Read the full article here.