Corporate Value Associates turns energy transition strategy to action

19 February 2024 Consultancy.eu 5 min. read

With the energy transition high on the agenda of executives worldwide, Corporate Value Associates is helping businesses and governments shape their path to net zero – and with bringing those plans to life. We spoke with partner Matthieu Crest to find out how the firm’s holistic, customer-centred approach guides clients during their journey.

Founded in 1987, Corporate Value Associates (CVA) is a global boutique strategy consulting firm, with its 18 offices worldwide overseeing projects in 70+ countries. The firm specialises in providing counsel to complex, high stake challenges across the boardroom agenda, and arguably there is no present challenge greater than the energy transition.

The energy sector is under pressure to speed up its shift from fossil-based systems – including oil, natural gas and coal – to renewable energy systems like wind and solar. Yet at the same time, the sector is struggling to make it happen at a rate that is needed to deliver on climate goal objectives.

Corporate Value Associates turns energy transition strategy to action

Matthieu Crest, Partner and Head of Energy & Circular Transition at Corporate Value Associates

Working with governments and executives, Corporate Value Associates helps its clients “navigate the dynamic energy transition landscape”, centred on finding the right balance between value creation and sustainability – “which ultimately, this whole transition hinges on,” said Crest.

“Alongside serving the energy & utilities sectors, our teams worldwide offer a wide range of services focused on various related sectors, such as mining & commodities, agri-food, mobility, healthcare, building & construction and financial services.”

Disruption to the current landscape

Looking at the current state of play for the world’s path to clean energy, Crest warned, “The complexity of this transition does not only lie in the intrinsic capabilities of technologies to provide innovative solutions. It also lies in a multitude of parameters that are more difficult to evaluate and predict, which involve the adaptation of new economic and social models.”

The real costs of the transition, in other words, are the restructuring of networks and their uses, and the corresponding redistribution of economic value which it implies. At the same time, the competitiveness and social acceptability of the new generation of energy production sources (such as solar and optionally nuclear) are important factors.

“The move from a centralised network to a more decentralised energy model integrating more diffused renewable energies implies a profound restructuring of the economic and social model and notably requires significant investments in transmission and distribution networks,” said Crest.

Meanwhile, “the value chains that structure the economy” will see “a redistribution of value”, where certain industries may find themselves in crisis in the face of new carbon neutrality requirements – even as others emerge and prosper. While this will help to supply a vital integration of carbon neutrality into the economy, it will come at the expense of a period of economic uncertainty, during which the competitiveness of some long-established companies will be challenged.”

“The energy transition is one of our undisputed specialties, the sector represents around 20% of our turnover worldwide.”

With political and economic instability also leading some governments to renege on climate promises, the Corporate Value Associates partner warned this could be one of the key issues facing the transition in the coming years.

“Low-carbon strategies can only be successful if they represent economic opportunities at a global level,” he added. “And the absence of a coherent international framework for the energy transition complicates the harmonisation of efforts: states are moving forward at different paces, paying attention above all to protecting their initial competitiveness. This has an impact on the comparative advantages that low-carbon strategies can bring ultimately – these are not necessarily the most competitive in the short term.”

This partially ties into the social acceptability of the transition – which is an essential parameter. The direct costs and indirect economic impacts of the energy transition are at the heart of the debate, with even some of the globe’s renewable energy leaders currently considering slowing down their transition due to its high costs for society.

At the same time, some debates around the safety of energy forms used during the energy transition – such as nuclear power – will also complicate matters.

To overcome this, Crest said that “the versatility of state involvement” will prove key to the process, and “grander picture of things”. Governments play a driving role in helping navigate the perceived social acceptability of the transition at local levels, while also coordinating the mass adoption of these new energy sources at a wider level.

A key area of focus

Over the years, Corporate Value Associates has accrued a market-leading level of experience in the landscape, helping clients to overcome precisely these challenges. According to data by Consultancy.org, the firm has delivered over 1,000 strategic engagements in the energy and circular transition field to date.

“The energy transition is one of our undisputed specialties,” Crest commented, “the sector represents around 20% of our turnover worldwide.”

Asked how the firm stands out in a crowded market, Crest pointed to its holistic approach – with its platform focusing on all energy vectors and urban services – helping both private and public customers “towards circular and sustainable systems while maintaining competitive conditions.”

This means Corporate Value Associates helps with identifying and capturing the value linked to new energy systems, and supports the transformation of its clients’ historical activities to help them better adapt to these market dynamics.

“Ultimately, we help to transform environmental challenges into opportunities and new areas of growth,” he concluded. “Through this promise, we integrate the environmental dimension as a starting point for any strategies we develop for our clients.”