It wasn’t long ago that platform professionals had limited career options in energy. There were relatively few opportunities and ones that did exist largely served fossil fuel interest. For example, in 2000 the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) launched a digital platform to provide a more transparent, efficient, liquid, lower costs than existing manual trading. The platform grew to dominate trading over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives trading for crude and refined oil, natural gas and power.
Platforms launched with a focused on cleaner energy often failed to gain traction. For example, in 2010 GE announced a platform strategy centered on an EV charger called the GE Wattstation.1 Despite deals with Lowe’s, Hertz and other companies, GE was only able to sell 1,800 commercial charging stations and 8,000 residential chargers. These assets were eventually sold off to ChargePoint in 2017.2
Similarly, Johnson Controls launched a platform called Panoptix in 2013.3 This was an ambitious effort to create a marketplace focused on energy efficiency solutions for commercial buildings. The platform aimed to create a marketplace for third-party developers to host cloud-based solutions and API integrations. But in 2015 the company stopped accepting new apps as data integrations with customers proved to be more challenging than expected and the platform failed to meet management’s expectations for returns and growth.4
Today, the role of energy related platforms has evolved and is looking more promising. There are now at least 5 ways that platform business models are helping to transition away from carbon-intensive energy sources.
Platforms can advance technology adoption by facilitating transactions and connecting and securing quotes from installers that can be easily compared. One example is EnergySage, which is an online marketplace for solar photovoltaic and other clean energy technologies. EnergySage platform offers homeowners, businesses, and non-profits a way to compare prices and features associated with various clean energy offerings. The quotes are designed to provide users with a clear, apples-to-apples format, metrics and decision-making tools that improve decision-making, matching and, ultimately, deployment.
As Airbnb and other have shown, platforms are great at enabling peer-to-peer sharing services that improve overall asset utilization. Better utilization rates can have important environmental benefits. Getaround provides an example of this type of platform. This San Francisco-based Getaround platform is a peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace that enables car owners to rent out their cars. Cars can be rented by the hour, or the day, with a $1M insurance policy and 24/7 roadside assistance included. Shared cars are used more frequently and retired more quickly, which accelerates the adoption of newer, more energy-efficient vehicles contributing to an up to 40% reduction of carbon emissions, according to the company.
Aggregation & Trading
While renewables are key to the shift away from fossil fuels, the fact they are distributed and intermittent can create major challenges for the stability of the grid. A promising solution is a platform that supports local trading as well as the aggregation of distributed small-scale production into a block of power or what is sometimes called a “virtual power plant.” LO3 Energy provides one example of this approach. The company’s Pando platform automatically matches bids with offers and logs the transactions using blockchain technology the company pioneered in 2017.5 The platform allows individuals to transact privately as well as support businesses looking to buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) from solar and wind producers.6 Rather than attempting to compete with utilities, LO3 Energy’s strategy is to offer Pando to utilities as a type of white-label, clean energy platform-as-a-service.
Complex Energy Services
Another area where platform strategies hold promise is around organizing complex energy services, such as providing clean energy to large far-flung multinational enterprises is a challenging task. Schneider Electric has built a business in this space but recognized that it could not fully serve these companies on its own. It needed to leverage the solutions of other companies to provide a more complete solution set. To this end, Schneider Electric established a platform called The NEO Network. The platform links over 350 corporate clean energy buyers seeking power purchase agreements with local solution providers. The network provides peer-to-peer digital connections and implement solutions in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and emerging climate change technologies.
Freelance & Expert Networks
Finally, some platforms can help provide the talent needed to support the great energy transition. Platforms can efficiently connect candidates with employers seeking freelancers with specialized clean energy talent. UK-based SolarJobs provides a good example. The SolarJobs platform matches registered candidates and employers with a highly flexible and easy to use platform. SolarJobs covers a wide variety of job types including solar analytical engineer jobs, solar installer jobs, solar maintenance engineer jobs, solar management jobs, solar manufacturing jobs, solar marketing jobs, solar project management jobs, and many more.
Active job searches
The growth of energy platforms focused on advancing clean energy is opening new opportunities for platform professionals. Here are five examples of currently active job searches in this area.
Position: Renewable Energy Transactions Project Manager
Company: LevelTen Energy
Location: Austin, TX
LevelTen’s technology-enabled two-sided market connects electricity sellers and buyers in highly sophisticated ways. The company aggregates both Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) buyers and sellers, allowing the parties to connect and transact in a vastly more efficient manner. This is accomplished by blending resources from wind and solar projects into optimally shaped power portfolios and syndicating the energy to individual customers in suitable volumes. The Renewable Energy Transactions Project Manager will drive execution of Marketplace transactions for clients seeking to acquire or sell renewable energy projects or seeking energy offtake agreements. Additionally, the manager will initiate process improvement and standardization across teams to ensure seamless transactions. They will also be expected to be involved in product improvement, expand relationships with renewable energy asset buyers and sellers and onboard new users onto the platform, giving demos and issuing log-in credentials and strengthen and maintain relationships with existing platform users.
Position: Director of Client Services
Location: Irvine, CA
Qmerit is a leading installer of electric vehicle charging stations serving EV manufacturers, such as BMW, GM, Jaguar, Land Rover and MINI as well as EV charging station manufacturers, such as ChargePoint, Enel X and Electrify America. Headquartered in Irvine, California, the company has built a platform that connects customers with a nationwide network of certified electrical contractors and white-glove concierge service providers to install electric vehicle charging stations, battery walls and microgrid solutions. The company is seeking a Director of Client Services who will be responsible for (1) ensuring install requests are handled in a timely manner, (2) onboarding and certifying installers, and (3) ensuring our installers use the Qmerit platform to keep their information and clients updated. The director will be expected to support VP & Dev Ops to enhance the Qmerit platform, oversee service provider onboarding activities and compliance processes, manage invoicing/billing for service providers and other activities essential to the operations of the platform.
Position: Product Manager, Energy Platform
Location: Fremont, CA
Tesla is looking for a Product Manager for the Energy Platform. The Energy platform is a global product that is critical for ensuring customers who are shopping on Tesla.com can finance their purchase without ever leaving the website. The platform acts as the interface between the customer and financial lender. The product manager will be responsible for building out the roadmap, interact with business customers and drive the vision of the platform. As Tesla scales and enters into new markets, this platform should cater to customers’ needs across the globe. In this role, the product manager will be responsible for conducting business and tech reviews with leadership and executive teams on a regular basis. Product manager will be part of a tightly knit group of Engineers, Designers, QA and other Product managers and will be responsible for the execution and delivery of new product/functionality launches. The person selected for this role will be expected to Drive engineering initiatives with product, engineers and designers, integrate analytics, data science and research into your methodology, and maximize productivity in a constantly changing environment of shifting priorities
Position: Head of ESG Solutions, Energy
Company: Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Location: Houston, TX
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is leading the adoption of cloud technologies in Energy operations. AWS Energy is supporting its Energy customers to leverage cloud technologies to support their ESG (Environmental Social Governance strategies). The ecosystem of technology, innovation services available to customers is incredibly complex to consume and AWS Energy aims to simplify this to support scalable and economic innovation. AWS Energy is looking for an entrepreneurial Senior Technical Product Manager with a strong background addressing a broad range of ESG challenges including and not limited to sustainability practices, carbon footprint management, emissions monitoring etc. in Energy to scope, develop and scale a new cloud enabled product suite that addresses our customers’ largest operational challenges.
Position: Global NEO Network Product & Services Leader
Company: Schneider Electric
Location: Denver, CO
Schneider Electric’s Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) team advises global companies in developing their commitments to curb climate change and maintain less than 1.5 deg C temperature rise. The NEO Network is a peer-to-peer, digital network of leading global corporations intended to accelerate the awareness, evaluation and implementation of climate change solutions including renewable energy, efficiency and broader solutions. The platform links over 350 corporate clean energy buyers seeking power purchase agreements with local solution providers. The network provides peer-to-peer digital connections and implement solutions in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and emerging climate change technologies. The Global NEO Network Product & Services Leader will focus on deepening the NEO Network engagement with members and include the management, analysis, networking and overall service delivery for the global NEO Network platform. They will expected to managing the NEO Network product & services life cycle from strategic planning to tactical activities; Lead and partner with the Commercial & Industrial (C&I) Corporate membership, solution provider membership including renewable energy providers, and ancillary membership to continually evolve the NEO Network platform; act as liaison between NEO Network Ambassadors, Client Services, Marketing, and Technology teams to support NEO Network positioning and member demand as part of new product/service development; and, finally, prepare, maintain, and evangelize the product roadmap which defines technology and platform enhancements for short- and long-term releases.