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The world's fast-growing clean energy industry is facing a shortage of workers, especially experienced business leaders, according to a joint study by clean energy investment analysis provider New Energy Finance and executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

The two companies conducted a survey of senior executives in the alternative and renewable energy sector to pinpoint the areas where recruitment difficulties are greatest.

The shortage is in sub-sectors such as wind and solar energy and biofuels. New Energy Finance figures show that new investment in clean energy worldwide in 2007 reached $148.4 billion, up 60% from the previous year.

The central finding of the research is that business leaders regard the recruitment issue facing the sector as a serious challenge. Some 37% of respondents said they saw the recruitment challenge as "very serious," and a further 59% described it as "moderately serious." Only 4% said it was "not serious."

Senior managers say that finding executives to drive the growth of their businesses was a key challenge for the next 12-18 months, at least comparable with other concerns, such as the availability of projects and assets, capital availability and cost, and government and regulatory support.

"This important research has shown that very rapid growth in investment in clean energy is putting strain on the availability of senior managers with sector experience," says Michael Liebreich, chairman and chief executive of New Energy Finance. "There is strong momentum behind the growth of clean energy worldwide, with new investment up nearly fivefold between 2004 and 2007, but this is creating shortages not just of components, such as silicon, and transport infrastructure, such as crane ships for offshore wind, but also of human capital."

The survey results show that clean energy firms see three high-level posts as particularly challenging to fill. Some 48% of respondents said that the position of chief technical officer was one of the most difficult positions to fill, while 46% put the post of CEO in this category and 37% said recruiting senior project managers was a tough task.


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