The new kinds of energy powering a sustainable future

The new kinds of energy powering a sustainable future

The global shift towards a more sustainable future is overwhelmingly encompassing all sectors, from retail to automotive to food. The commodities sector is no different; in fact, we are witnessing a monumental pivot in the energy sector, towards a renewable, sustainable future. With a climate emergency afoot, businesses are eagerly shifting their practices all over the world.

What is the energy transition?

When we discuss the term ‘energy transition’, we are referring to the sizeable movement across the global to prioritise sustainability and shift towards more renewable sources of energy across all sectors. This trend is gaining momentum in a variety of fields. Energy sources such as solar and hydro have fallen by the wayside in favour of new, innovative sources of energy instead. These include:

  • Biofuel
    • ExxonMobil is aggressively pursuing algae as a means of biofuel, investing millions into research. Another example is sugarcane: Brazil’s fourth largest company Raizan seeks to raise over $1 billion to fund the process of turning sugarcane into ethanol.
  • Sustainable refinery
    • Since 1981, more than half of America’s refineries have closed. With the energy transition on the horizon, many are now looking to update existing refineries to reflect a more connected, more sustainable future. Such ‘Refineries of the Future’ must adapt quickly to changing environmental laws and regulations. They must also be digitally apt – capable of embracing digitalised tools and analytics software to improve efficiency across operations.
  • Carbon capturing
    • Carbon capture and storage, or carbon capture and sequestration, is becoming a sizeable trend in commodities, with companies looking towards this option to offset their carbon footprint. This is particularly helpful in helping some businesses achieve carbon neutrality by a set date.

With this energy transition comes a whole new host of new developments in the recruitment industry. Here we’ve outlined some of the key trends to look out for as an executive search firm.

What’s happening in the market?

Big companies are now investing in smaller energy companies with green technology in their arsenals. For example, Trafigura, a market leader, has announced a significant investment in green hydrogen innovator H2 Energy. H2 is the world’s first company to create an ecosystem ‘based on green hydrogen’, delivering cell fuel trucks to commercial users. The investment is marked at $60 million with the potential to grow. Another giant of the industry, Shell Energy, is currently building a massive biofuels facility in the Netherlands to help meet growing demand for low-carbon energy. Shell’s new facility is expected to become one of the biggest in Europe for this type of environmental initiative.


Many countries have a plethora of individuals skilled in fossil fuels, particularly in oil. But on the cusp of the energy transition, these skills are no longer as desirable as they used to be, as businesses switch to different energy sources. Workforces will need to adapt and update their skillsets urgently to survive in this future.

It’s not as if those with years of experience in fossil fuels will find themselves listless – the skills developed and cultivated over decades of work in the energy sector will still be necessary. Several core skills in mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering will still be in high demand. In fact, they will be necessary to help develop the decarbonised future of tomorrow. But many companies will invest in retraining anyway, to help those with established careers pivot in the right direction.

Innovations in the clean energy industry also offer new opportunities. As old oil and gas refineries are repurposed for the future, exciting new technologies will undoubtedly be brought in. This presents further opportunities for those with backgrounds in digitalization and manufacturing to aid in the transition. However, businesses will need to prioritise and invest in transitory trainings for their existing employees to help plug gaps in leader talent.


It’s important to note that while we can mostly consider the energy transition as inevitable, there is still much uncertainty about the future. The pandemic has shaken the world’s faith in market trends and it remains a significant factor in many places around the world. Off the back of this have come challenges in hiring and retaining talent. Companies everywhere are looking to see how they can create the most attractive packages for potential hires, as well as how to incentivize the staff they do have to stay with them.

Much research is also suggesting that financial packages alone are no longer key motivators for people joining or staying in their jobs. A shift is occurring where people want to work for firms with environmental credentials, where sustainability is fundamental to their operations. New hires are more and more inclined to base their decision of where to work based on their emotional connection to the business, and whether or not they feel or think they will feel valued in such an environment.

There is potential for thousands of jobs to be created as sustainable energy practices open up globally. Re-evaluating your firm’s retention rates is crucial to ensuring the development and maintenance of a strong workforce. If you need help designing and implementation a framework that attracts the right talent, feel free to get in touch with me at

This article is part of a report from Proco Commodities – ‘The Journey to Carbon Zero’. The download the report, click here

by Tim Thompson-Essexview my profile

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