Supporting the global transition to green energy

The energy transition is upon us, with concerns around energy prices and the urgency of climate change necessitating rapid action. A growing number of companies are doing great things, and the right private equity backer can help them to accelerate their growth.

Earlier this year, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) pointed to a wholly inadequate pace and scale of the renewables-based transition. The Agency’s Outlook set out priority areas and actions based on available technologies that must be realised by 2030 to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.

This matters to absolutely everyone, everywhere.

A growing number of companies have been aware of this need for years, and helping them to go bigger, bolder and better may go a long way to helping humans to reduce their impact.

Designing the global transition to clean energy since 2015, Wood Thilsted is one such company. This leading specialised offshore wind engineering consultancy is behind the foundations of some of the world's largest offshore wind farms and with a growing team of 160+ diverse experts, it’s packing a powerful punch. Earlier this year, it received a minority investment from Inflexion to help it punch even harder.

Wood Thilsted was looking for a partner to support its continued expansion to meet strong and growing demand for its end-to-end services from project feasibility assessments to detailed design and lifetime extension. The company’s founders, Alastair Muir Wood and Christian LeBlanc Thilsted, were keen to bring on board a partner that could add value beyond capital, but whilst allowing them to retain control of the successful business they were building.

They were impressed with Inflexion’s international footprint and track record in helping companies to scale, as well as its steps towards sustainability at the firm level (Inflexion had achieved carbon-neutral status in 2021) and in helping its portfolio to improve its ESG credentials. Add to that Inflexion’s willingness to provide genuinely minority capital, and it was clear the match was a good one.

“Though they have a minority shareholding, we get all the benefits of their expertise, providing input which we really value” Alastair comments.

Propelling growth

The goals are ambitious: the funding is already being used to drive further international presence and growth as the firm expands its offer into more emerging offshore wind markets. It is starting from a high base, with the firm already operating in the major markets of the world, dominating in the UK and USA and working on many of the world’s most significant offshore windfarm development projects.

While the funding and Inflexion’s expertise should help this to run smoothly, it will be further benefit from strong underlying market growth in offshore wind farms of over 20% per year, with government green energy targets acting as wind in the sails.

Underpinning the entire operation is Wood Thilsted’s unique engineering approach. It has in-house proprietary software, a honed integrated design process, holistic engineering approach and collaborative contracting that have all been developed specifically for offshore wind engineering projects rather than adapted from the oil and gas industry. This means high quality, optimised designs delivered at speed with lower risk, saving clients hundreds of millions in fabrication, installation and maintenance costs. The firm’s compelling offering means it is supporting delivery of 10GW of projects across four continents.

Part of the global growth is state-side, where Wood Thilsted is now involved in every major commercial offshore windfarm project, including the US’s first commercial offshore wind project, Vineyard Wind. It’s involvement in this ground-breaking venture means it has a big role to play in shaping the development of not just the US’s offshore wind power capabilities but the development of a whole new industry benefiting communities and delivering jobs and investment.

“The ambition, passion and drive that we’re now seeing for the US offshore wind industry is phenomenal. It’s going to be amazing to see the industry make such a difference for employment across the continent. We’re keen to harness local workforces and introduce them to the industry, and being there to help them adapt,” says Dennis Hindhede, Chief Consultant who moved to the US for Wood Thilsted earlier this year. Thus far, optimising the supply chain is a challenge the WT is tackling, as well as recruiting engineers to join the growing team. To support this, they are engaging with US universities to help build up their courses and modules, advising on what their focuses should be surrounding offshore wind as this area enjoys increasing popularity in the US.

“Demand for our services has never been higher, but catering for this by expanding whilst maintaining the quality our clients have come to expect requires an innovative approach to data management, analysis and skills development. Inflexion’s support and international expertise is helping us to reach and support more businesses to develop the most efficient and effective offshore windfarms, accelerating their transition to renewable energy sources,” says Alastair.