“Green Tech Skillnet is a really useful opportunity for all members of the industry to get together to share knowledge and best practice.”
Ronan O'Meara, Managing Director EnergyPro
- Keeping up-to-date across a number of specialist areas
- Ensuring its small team has the capacity for rapid growth
- Attracting and retaining good people
- Opening up export markets
EnergyPro is facing a pivotal moment. The business has been showing steady growth year on year, adding four new wind farms to its portfolio in the past two years alone. Right now it is preparing for more rapid growth, driven by a number of factors.
One of them is a favourable policy environment.
“The Government’s Climate Action Plan has a target whereby 70% of Ireland’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2030, so we are gearing up for growth,” says Ronan O’Meara.
That ambition doesn’t stop on Irish shores. The company is currently executing a market entry plan in the UK, having opened its first office there, in Edinburgh, in 2019.
EnergyPro’s rapid growth plans are also being fuelled by the development of an innovative new product that can predict when a major component in a wind farm is likely to fail. Its work on this initiative won it the 2020 Outstanding Innovation Award at the Irish Wind Energy Association’s Irish Wind Awards.
“The beauty of this business is that data can come from anywhere, so we have the potential to expand significantly abroad,” says O’Meara.
The scale of the commercial opportunity is clear. But how do you capture it when you have a team of just 12 people? For O’Meara the answer is workforce development.
EnergyPro relies on a small but highly skilled team of 12 people who between them have deep domain knowledge across several specialist areas including energy generation, government policy, financial management, data analytics and software development.
It relies on the Green Tech Skillnet, a learning network for companies in the renewable energy and green technology sectors, to powers its team’s ability.
“Green Tech Skillnet was introduced to us by the Irish Wind Energy Association. The programmes and workshops it runs help improve our knowledge of the wind industry generally, as well as on the electrical and grid operations side” says O’Meara.
“Like any business, we don’t know everything. What the Green Tech Skillnet is very good at is bringing in international speakers to talk to members. We recently had an expert on blade technology, as well as one on power markets, who showed how trends overseas are likely to impact the market here. It helps keep us at the cutting edge of trends and technology.”
Its health and safety workshops are of particular importance to EnergyPro.
“Green Tech Skillnet is also a really useful way for all members of the industry to get together to share knowledge and best practice,” he says.
“Some members are in wind farm management, some manufacture turbines, some do electrical switching, so every member gets great networking benefits. In any industry, a rising tide lifts all boats and in relation to health and safety, we’re all very aware of the importance of ensuring the wind energy industry is as safe as possible, in order to grow it.”
EnergyPro has both valuable clients and innovative technology, but it is its people that provides it with competitive advantage. “People are the most important thing for us. The quality of our staff is the reason we win work,” says O’Meara.
Being a member of Green Tech Skillnet makes it easier to recruit good people. “At interview stage candidates want to know what investment in training and development you make in your people. Being able to show what we do, and that we have an annual budget for training, helps us get good people.”
That matters now more than ever. “Our business is moving increasingly from traditional wind farm management towards data analysis and technology is moving very fast in that sphere. Just because you could programme C+ five years ago doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn the next programming language or the next technology coming through. On top of that, the electricity market is changing all the time,” he says.
It is on-going training that enables the firm be nimble. “If you don’t invest in training, you will fall behind,” he says.
“We’re a small team. We need to be up-to-date across a lot of areas. We need short, bespoke pieces of impact training, the kind that allows us to stay at the cutting edge of technology and knowledge. That’s why we benefit from the Green Tech Skillnet. It’s better to pool expertise than to plough your own furrow.”