Back to How We Help Clients

Clean Technologies

We help clients develop profitable, robust, and scalable businesses and investment portfolios that capitalize on disruptive technologies in power, transport, buildings and infrastructure, and water.

In the past two years McKinsey has worked on more than 750 projects involving clean technologies. Our clients include major energy, industrial, and high-tech companies, startups, private equity and venture capital firms, sovereign wealth funds, governments, and regulators.

Over 150 of our consultants have developed deep expertise in clean technologies including wind, solar, water efficiency (blue tech), electric vehicles, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). We also draw on a unique body of knowledge built up over decades of experience in related fields such as electric power, high tech, automotive, finance, and private equity.

We help clients to plan for and respond to industry disruptions affecting:

  • Power, such as renewables (solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind), clean coal, carbon capture and sequestration, smart-grid and metering technologies, energy-storage solutions, energy efficiency, and waste-to-energy opportunities
  • Transport, such as clean vehicles, electric vehicles (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery), fuel cells, and batteries
  • Buildings and infrastructure, such as automation, HVAC, windows, insulation, home energy management, appliances, and LED lighting
  • Water, such as wastewater treatment and desalination/membranes.

How we work

Identifying opportunities for investment or market entry

We help clients conduct opportunity and technology assessments and develop investment perspectives. Recently we advised one of the world's leading sovereign wealth funds on the likely effects of resource scarcity on its portfolio. We identified a shortlist of potential targets tailored to the fund's profile and risk appetite, as well as actions to mitigate the risks. We also support companies with market strategies, implementation programs, and insights into regulatory impact. For a leading US utility serving 6 million customers, we provided an overview of the dynamics driving the global market for solar energy and helped it develop a plan to capture the opportunities.

Helping to build businesses

We support companies in building new clean technology businesses by providing outsourced management resources such as COOs and product marketing experts until these companies can hire their own staff. We also help clients scale up businesses by establishing joint ventures, exploring opportunities in international markets, or identifying M&A targets to drive the next wave of growth. For a subsidiary of a leading industrial conglomerate, we helped screen potential M&A targets, create a shortlist, conduct due diligence, structure the deal, and plan post-acquisition management.

Designing operational improvement programs

We advise clients on technology development, procurement, manufacturing, and cost reduction. Among recent examples of our work, we helped a public sector IT provider upgrade its data center with a modern energy-efficient infrastructure, achieving savings of 30 percent in both greenhouse gas emissions and running costs. We supported a major solar company in transforming its global manufacturing footprint to achieve cost savings of 25 percent, a 30 percent reduction in defects, and a substantial boost in employee satisfaction.

Exploring implications for existing business models

As clean technologies come down the cost curve, they become increasingly disruptive to traditional business models. We help clients understand how advances in clean technologies affect industry structure and competitive dynamics. Recently we assisted an oil company in investigating how rapid improvements in the economics of electric vehicles could reshape the demand for gasoline.

To support our work with clients, we invest in advancing the state of thinking in clean technologies and developing special-purpose diagnostic tools. An example is the US low carbon economics tool, a suite of models designed to estimate the economic implications of energy and climate policies for the United States. We also run a series of benchmarks for technologies such as solar photovoltaic and LED, and develop insights into clean technology learning curves.

Featured experts

Dickon Pinner

Senior Partner, San Francisco

Matt Rogers

Senior Partner, San Francisco

Rob Bland

Partner, San Francisco

Anton Derkach

Partner, Houston

Impact story

Stagnating revenues prompt a diversified conglomerate to seek new growth in the solar photovoltaic industry

A strategic acquisition positions the company to become a major global player.

RELATED INSIGHTS