Case Study

Build energy solution

Build from scratch a new international energy solution business unit (350M€, 450FTE) for one of the leading European utility company

Problem Statement

How to get a significant share of the energy solution market and actively support B2B customers with their sustainability targets.


One of the biggest European utility company was triggered to build a new energy solution business due to continues request from the market & customers to provide tangible energy efficiency solutions which deliver sustainability benefits. Expertise, skills and experience where limited available and the board decided to build a new business unit (start-up) outside the cooperate and existing regional unit structure directly reporting to the board of directors.


The first step was to build a team with energy solution experts mostly recruited outside the company and to apply the seven-step process particular focused on;

  • Market analysis, Customer feedback, Competition analysis focusing on Europe
  • Layout the value chain & business models and decide which areas are critical success factors to win
  • Create a phased strategic plan (1-3-5 year) answering where to play and how to win

Key findings

  1. MARKET & CUSTOMERS; The energy solution market is growing towards more than 50B€ in 2025 with an 8-10% CAGR. Competition is scattered with many small local companies and a few regional players. None of the competitors have a bigger share than 5%. Customers are looking for a trusted partner to achieve their, year on year increasing, energy reduction and sustainability targets. Capex priorities and lack of expertise drift customers away from their targets.

  2. SOLUTIONS, VALUE CHAIN, BUSINESS MODELS; Consulting, Software, Contracting and Operation are successful solutions. A wide range of technology is utilised such as: Combined Heat & Power Plants, Solar, Storage, Boilers, Chillers, Heating & Ventilation, Heat pumps, Lighting, Building Control & Demand response. Various business models (e.g. Energy Performance Contracting, Design and Build and SaaS) are used in the market. All in all, a complex pallet of options to choose from with different profitability and risk profiles.

  3. INTERNAL STRUCTURE, CUSTOMER CONTACTS; Regional units hold the regional P&L and customer engagement for the regular commodity retail business. Regional teams have limited expertise in energy solutions and the majority of customer engagements are at procurement level. More than 6M existing B2B customers in 8 countries.


STRATEGY & STRUCTURE – A standalone start-up approach was taken to ensure the right internal setup, with the required agility and flexibility to accommodate a strong growth business. Fit for purpose cooperate governance was implemented to not kill the entrepreneurial spirit of newly acquired firms. The new standalone unit have been equipped with all disciplines such as Sales & Marketing, Engineering, Operation and Service as well as support staff (Finance, HR, Legal).


PHASED APPROACHED – A three phased build up plan was developed. i)Build critical mass by one or two large acquisitions, ii)Depending on step 1, proof of profitable results and market development a “string of pearls” acquisition strategy was developed to acquire complementarity expertise, solutions and market entry capabilities, iii)Transformation of the standalone business unit into a competence centre supporting all ten (10) regional units.


COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION PORTFOLIO – In order to differentiate from many competitors and act as trusted energy partner a complete offering was developed. From feasibility studies, digital solutions up to energy performance contracting (financed asset solutions with guaranteed energy & carbon emission reductions) has been developed. In addition, an Energy Management Centre has been designed to offer additional energy reduction services 24hr/7 days a week.


INNOVATION & DIGITALISATION – Operational efficiency and new digital solutions have been developed by proactive scouting for digital start-ups focused on advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Examples are i) Digital Energy Management Centre, ii) SaaS Energy Management Software, iii) Manufacturing insights data platform, iv) Virtual power plant

Board approval & Implementation

Due to the start-up structure bi-monthly board approval have been required to get funding for the next steps or start a new due diligence process. In total five (5) acquisitions in four countries have been finalised and six (6) minority stakes in innovative start-ups in USA and Europe.
All acquisitions have been consolidated and integrated in one energy efficiency business unit and one overall value proposition have been developed.
In step 3 of the implementation lead generation was extended by transforming and training a part of the B2B / SME regional unit sales employees.


In 3 years, the energy solution business was built from an idea to a real business delivering 350M€ turnover, profitable EBITDA and more than 450 employees in 6 countries. More than 500K sites / assets are managed by the Energy Management Centre and more than 175M€ investments in energy & heat generation assets have been delivered and operated in an Energy Performance contract. Customers benefit with annual 600T CO2 reduction and 65M cost reduction.