The Energy Transition: A Coming-of-Age Story

The global energy landscape is coming of age. Its voice is changing. It looks different, dresses different. From the solar park to the smart grid, the oilfield to the office, every inch of the energy sector in every part of the globe is undergoing a transition. For some it is decarbonization, for others digitalization, decentralization or decommissioning – but there is one common trend: it’s always transformative. And when I think coming-of-age transformations, I think Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries, or Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles. I think about the many trope-heavy, lesson-rich coming-of-age movies I grew up with.

A key trope undergirding many of these movies is that, by the end of the film, most central characters have undergone some sort of character arc. If successful, the audience comes away empathizing with and supporting them, having gained a better sense of their complex inner lives and backstory. For businesses to come out of the energy transition as protagonists, they need to understand their current status on the playground and be able to control their own character arc. So, wherever you sit within the energy spectrum – fossil fuels, cleantech, smart grid, carbon trading, or somewhere in between – you better sit up and pay attention. Roll call.

First up, the indie kid – renewables. They might have started the movie in the shadows but they have taken off their glasses and now everyone knows who they are. Innovative renewable energy technologies are the lifeblood of the energy transition – from mature technologies such as offshore wind and solar, to emerging technologies including wave and tidal. But no one can ever stay the new kid on the block for long. As the market becomes increasingly crowded, renewables won’t have long to chew pencils. It’s time to show people exactly what they stand for and why they’re here. Their move.

Then we have everybody’s best friend – the nice guy, aka energy services. The ultimate wingman, he’s always there to pump you up or lend a helping hand. But don’t be mistaken – he’s got plenty going on beneath the surface. There’s a whole ecosystem of interconnected technical and business services: consultancies, recruiters, cybersecurity companies, traders, investors. Energy services just need the right character development to elevate them from sidekick to protagonist.

At the front of the class, we have the team player: heat and buildings. They’re the one everyone wants on their team projects. In the current global assignment to achieve net zero, the role of decarbonizing heat and buildings cannot be overstated. Yet the team player is complex and often misunderstood. Despite sustainable heat, infrastructure and materials being front and centre of the energy transition, they’re often not sufficiently recognized as such. From heat networks, electrification and energy performance to Passivhaus, sustainable building materials and hydrogen – the key for the heat and buildings sector to progress from just smart to smart and popular and the ability to translate complex messages into memorable communications. Cue iconic speech.

In the computer room, we have the ‘A.V. club’ or tech heads – the power sector. Generation, transmission, distribution, flexibility: the power sector is at the frontline of the energy transition, and is much more than the technology required to produce and distribute electricity. Unfortunately, they’re not always seen as the coolest kid in school. In fact, people often take their technical know-how for granted. It’s time for the power sector to grab a megaphone or hijack the loudspeaker if they want a say in how the rest of the movie pans out.

The one who’s too cool for school – transport. Transportation is well-known in the energy landscape for bringing ‘sexy’ innovations and ideas. See: vehicle connectivity, autonomous driving, and the sharing economy – Transport as a Service (TaaS). They seem a bit more mature than their peers – undergoing particularly rapid transformation in the decarbonization space. But to finish the movie as more than a meme of the contemporary zeitgeist, the cool kid needs to make sure they’re leaving their own bubble and looking outwards. With effective communication and collaboration, transportation can transform businesses and societies around the world.

Finally, who could forget the older kids – oil and gas. They’ve started the movie at the top of the food chain. But be careful, coming-of-age films don’t always work in their favor. Only those who are self-aware and able to move with the changing tide will safeguard their reputation. Oil and gas businesses must navigate a complex interplay of macroeconomic events, growing ESG demands and their impact on businesses on the ground. From start-ups to multinationals and oilfield services to operators, to maintain social status they need to ensure their brand stays relevant in a low cost, low carbon world.

Audience attitudes and expectations are coming of age as well. Much like in Hollywood, authenticity, celebration of diversity and pushing the boundaries are all ‘in’. Businesses must adapt their communications strategies to ensure they don’t get lost in the crowd when the final school bell rings.

That’s where Aspectus comes in. You might not find us quoted anywhere in IMDb, but we like to think our consultative communications advice and creative campaigns would win us an Academy Award or two for Best Supporting Actor. Think a combination of Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid and Frankie Avalon in Grease. As one of the most well-connected international communications agencies specializing in the energy sector, we are helping to hone and communicate the ‘character development’ of our clients at every step of the energy transition, ensuring they don’t end up as villains, or forgotten altogether on the cutting room floor, but go down in history as progressive, memorable, popular lead characters.

If you’d like hear more about our approach, get in touch via

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