January 2, 2020

Renewable Energy Business Development

What is Renewable Energy Business Development?

Business Development is a term associated with growth and sales. In the context of Renewable Energy, Business Development is the practice of identifying opportunities, both Greenfield and Brownfield (Origination) and progressing them along the typical path of development (see Project Development).

What is the job of a Renewable Energy Business Development Manager?

A Business Development Manager will have targets to achieve that could range from new market entry to achieving a number of MW’s developed or hitting a certain IRR target – or all three. As with all job titles, they can mean different things to different organisations. In our experience, Business Development sits between Project Development and Investment Management. A Business Developer is seeking to get projects structured, financed and built. Typical responsibilities include;

  • Lead origination and project execution (e.g. due diligence, financing, valuation, negotiation of contracts).  
  • Maintain and ensure an extensive knowledge of current market conditions & future trends with EPC contractors and Governmental stakeholders, energy traders, and other key stakeholders.
  • Own all approvals and applications for full project permitting and grid connection required for the purposes of obtaining Power Sale Agreements and Ready to Build status.
  • Build long term partnerships to raise equity and debt finance for ongoing projects and development portfolio.
  • Managing relationships with third party developers, project off-takers and co-developers.

What is Greenfield Development?

Within Renewable Energy, a Greenfield project is one that is completely new using an undeveloped site. Imagine a Solar PV project being installed on farmland. If there has previously been only grass growing there and no pre-existing electrical connections or infrastructure, the project would be considered Greenfield.

What is Brownfield Development?

Brownfield land is an area of land or premises that has been previously used, but has subsequently become vacant, derelict or contaminated. Brownfield sites typically require preparatory regenerative work before any new development goes ahead, and can also be partly occupied. Benefits of Brownfield development can include pre existing Infrastructure, Foundations, Grid Connections or perhaps just better located land. 

What is Bid or Tender work in Business Development?

Project Development comes in all shapes and sizes. A Renewable Energy developer could create a project to sell the power to a utility, directly to a community or otherwise – the direction is entirely at their discretion. Bid or Tender work on the other hand suggests that there are pre-requisite requirements and often, a competitive process. Imagine a large power user wants to secure a direct source of renewable energy. They’re unlikely to have the expertise in-house to develop, build, finance and operate such a facility so perhaps they’ll create a tender process and offer the most competitive bidder the contract. Business Development Managers will often manage this process. Equally they might treat government state-wide subsidies in an equal fashion and tender for capacity as part of their offtake / financing requirements. 

Renewable Energy Business Development Managers will focus in different areas depending on the organisation or strategy of the company they represent. There are three common segments referred to:

Utility – This relates to the development of Renewable Energy Assets that connect to the grid at utility scale (multiple MW’s up to GW’s). The power is usually traded at a DNO or TNO level. 

Commercial & Industrial (C&I) – Large energy users such as factories, supermarkets and local authorities are heavy users of electricity. They can benefit from schemes to produce power they use directly for several reasons; Net Zero Emissions (they have direct control of where their power is generated from), Lowering the cost of energy (up-front investment meaning they reduce their long term costs) and Price security (knowing their cost of energy for 10+ years can be very beneficial to a large organisations budgeting and financial control).  

Residential – Home owners are also a large market for energy disruption. Think of roof-top Solar PV or Battery storage, Biomass Boilers, Energy Management Systems. At the residential level, Business Development tends to take more of a sales approach however. A company is often selling equipment or financing rather than developing a long term working agreement. 

What is the difference between a Renewable Energy Business Development Manager, a Sales Manager and a Project Developer?

Generalising significantly, the titles of Business Development and Sales Management are often closely related. Within Renewable Energy, we consider anyone selling a certain product to be a Sales Manager. For example, if you represent an equipment manufacturer (OEM) selling Solar PV panels, your job is measured on sales and not on the number of projects developed – this to us is Sales Management. Arguably Project Development is equally clear cut. You exist to turn Greenfield or Brownfield sites into operational assets by following a path of development. 


Business Development on the other hand is harder to narrow down, as it varies significantly between the type of organisation. Within a Renewable Energy Investor, the Business Development Manager seeks to find Project Developers to Co-Develop with (provide finance and commercial support to) thus overlapping to an extent in responsibility. Conversely, within a Large OEM or Energy Conglomerate, a Business Development Manager might have a target to sell a certain number of Wind Turbines whilst also supporting the structuring of finance. 


There is no clear distinction as these are terms interpreted differently amongst employers and renewable energy segments. On a case by case basis, we find the easiest way to determine the function is to look exclusively at the responsibility or measurement of success. 


Example Archived Renewable Energy Business Development Vacancies

Business Development Manager – Global Energy Investment Fund 

Business Development Manager sought by Global Renewable Energy investment fund working with a range of Clean Energy assets including Wind (Onshore/Offshore), Solar, Biomass and Energy storage.

The successful Business Development Manager will identify, support and deliver financially viable business opportunities. This will involve building key relationships to deliver new business and manage the development process from initiation to completion, ensuring the financial profitability and adequate risk allocation/mitigation of all projects.

Business Development Director, Corporate PPA Structuring – Renewable Energy

Business Development Director sought to lead Origination across corporate power purchase agreements for renewable power generation and energy storage projects within EMEA. Operating within a Global Power and Energy Investment Fund, you will lead solution development, drive strategy, identify potential customers, and structure, negotiate and conclude long-term power purchase agreements. With an asset portfolio that includes offshore wind, onshore wind, solar and battery energy storage, our client are comfortable investing across the full power spectrum.