Four Key Messages for Renewable Energy Marketing
Updated: Aug 30
Marketing in any sector begins with knowing who your target audience is, what they want and how they’ll decide upon the best fit for their needs. If we look at the renewable energy sector as a whole, the end of the supply chain is the energy consumer.
Knowing what that consumer wants, shaping the sector and the businesses in it to achieve those wants, and communicating with clarity the fact that renewable energy will deliver for them is what is going to take renewable energy to the next level.
Amazon's ex-CEO, Jeff Bezos, might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he makes a good point here.
“I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.” - Jeff Bezos
What are the four key messages for renewable energy that aren’t going to change?
In a recent report by DNV, consumers of energy said they rated the qualities of secure, reliable, accessible and affordable energy above clean and sustainable. Why is this important? If there is a new construction project coming up, the chances are that unless you can communicate clearly that your renewable approach ticks those boxes above and beyond fossil fuel, then you’ll likely be coming runner-up.
If we look beyond the competition with the O & G sector, there is the challenge of ‘strategic divergence’. This means we know the end goal is to become carbon-zero energy users, but there are many competing technologies and methods to achieve that. This competition causes confusion and, in many cases, concern about investing in the right technology.
In a sector where lobbying, misinformation, and knowledge gaps exist, the way a brand communicates and builds trust with its audience is absolutely critical. We’ll explore these areas below and give some ideas as to how you can establish greater confidence in delivering on these expectations.
79% of energy experts believe the energy transition is gaining pace. If you have a solution or service that can help organisations inside the renewable energy sector offer a service that is more secure, reliable, accessible and affordable - those need to be your go-to selling points.
Secure - renewable energy
It is thought that the war in Ukraine has fast-tracked the renewable energy sector by up to 10 years due to concerns about energy security. But war isn’t the only concern. From a marketing perspective, transparency is key. What are the concerns, how are they going to be mitigated, and the steps you’ll take to communicate these clearly will determine success in this area.
Instability and Conflicts: In the UK, instability could come from government policies, supply chain issues, and economic fluctuations leading to price volatility and potential shortages.
Reliance on Foreign Sources: China's share of the solar PV manufacturing market exceeds 80%. Is this a concern for future PV installations around cost and supply? Countries are discussing hydrogen pipelines, how does the security around these installations differ from the challenges faced with oil & gas?
Climate Change: Is a renewable installation secure in the face of future unpredictable weather events. High winds, extreme temperatures and flooding - what could impact the energy supply?
Natural Disasters and Accidents: Natural disasters, accidents, and technological failures can damage energy infrastructure, disrupting supply and causing economic impacts.
Uneven Distribution and Unequal Access: Uneven distribution of energy resources and unequal access can lead to energy insecurity. Economic development, technological progress, and rising consumption exacerbate energy demand.
Reliable - renewable energy
Reliability comes with a number of considerations for the customer. The credibility of your business, its expertise, experience and proof-of-work, along with the credibility and suitability of the technology you are promoting. Every effort should be made to discuss your credentials and suitability for the project or business at hand.
Intermittency: Solar and wind power's reliance on weather conditions leads to intermittency, causing challenges in meeting consistent energy demand. How does your solution deal with variable energy supply & changing loads?
Durability: What parts are likely to wear out, how easy are they to replace, how often? What happens if there’s a storm or flooding, or low temperatures - can the technology cope?
Lifespan: How long will the renewable energy solution keep giving me optimum energy efficiency? And then, how long until a full system replacement is needed?
OPEX: What are the costs associated with maintaining the energy supply, is there potential for costs to increase - what is the payback period incorporating these costs?
Access to skilled workers: If something does go wrong, what is the response time, how quickly can a skilled worker be accessed to fix the problem? What is the average downtime over a 10-year period?
Accessible - renewable energy
Accessibility concerns come in many shapes and sizes. The biggest of which is licensing and permitting. Can we get the relevant permits to install such systems, how long will it take, and how much cost is involved? Does that fit with the timelines & budget of the project?
Ben Hutt, CEO of Australian energy software provider Evergen. “One of the biggest handbrakes globally is how regulators hamper market development. We're still piloting things that we've proven two or three years ago. We believe that regulations and market bodies need to evolve to allow the future to take hold.”
Beyond this, is the technology feasible and suitable for the project? What are the requirements for it to work and are there implications on things such as health & safety we need to consider?
Technology feasibility: Taking into consideration all of the conditions surrounding the project, such as licensing, environmental, energy load, and type of building - is this feasible?
Suitable for the project: All projects have different requirements that relate to budget, timeframe, skills available, and usage of the building, does the technology match this?
Requirements: What is going to be involved with operating this renewable resource, are there additional implications such as health & safety or available space and building adaptations needed to make this work?
Depending on your target audience, the level of knowledge is going to be vastly different. The energy sector is extremely complex, and people only know what they know. Assume concerns will exist and do your utmost to address them.
Affordable - renewable energy
Whether you’re providing Solar PV to homeowners or GSHP to large commercial buildings, the affordability conversation will inevitably happen. How best to position your solution as affordable will come down to the focus on ‘installed cost’ vs ‘lifetime cost’, incentives and funding support available and suitability for the project at hand.
In some cases, for large organisations who are competing on ESG policy, affordability might be associated with brand investment to ensure they continue to evolve their business in the way their customers expect. Here are a few affordability areas of concern:
Initial Costs: While renewable energy technologies have become more cost-competitive, the upfront investment for installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other systems can still be high.
Storage Costs: Implementing energy storage solutions, such as batteries, to ensure a steady supply of power can add to the overall cost of renewable energy systems.
Infrastructure and Grid Improvements: Upgrading grid infrastructure to accommodate renewable energy sources may involve substantial costs. Additionally, delays in grid connections can impact the economic viability of renewable installations.
Variability and Reliability: Managing the intermittency of renewable sources like solar and wind requires additional investments in storage and grid management to ensure a consistent power supply.
Equitable Access: Ensuring that affordable renewable energy is accessible to all, including low-income households, is a concern that requires targeted policies and incentives.
Why does knowing this matter?
If you’re providing solutions or services to the renewable energy sector or a renewable energy business involved in the energy supply chain, the four key messages ‘secure - reliable - accessible - affordable’ are your battleground and in Richard’s case, it’s certainly the affordability that wins out.
Tasking marketing to build confidence, trust and credibility that your business can deliver in these areas is essential to driving greater adoption.
In every action, from website updates to brand design and content marketing strategy, it helps to assess how this is helping to instil greater confidence that our solution enables secure, reliable, accessible and affordable energy.
It is widely debated that there is no silver bullet to solving the energy trilemma. The more specific and clear your marketing can be as to who your solutions help most, how they help them, and the end goals achieved will help to cut through the barriers standing in your way.