Meet Brandon Vowell


Can you tell us about your career journey with Shell?

My career started in 2011, when I joined BG Group as a Spot Trader. I worked in that role for six years, during which time Shell acquired BG Group in 2016. Shell wanted to grow its power presence in Australia and create a power trading team and with this came an opportunity for me to become an originator. I wanted to move to a different role that involved more commercial creativity and problem solving. I was interested in learning more about electricity, which was clearly the growth commodity for the future, as the energy transition was well underway.

Can you explain what an originator does and what kind of skills it requires?

An originator identifies, defines, selects, negotiates and executes long-term, structured agreements that are usually related to a specific asset, such as a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) or renewable development. These are not frequent or regular trades, but rather customised and complex deals.

Being an originator requires creativity, flexibility, endurance, and problem-solving skills. It also involves building strong relationships with customers, internal and external stakeholders, and understanding their needs and preferences. It’s imperative to maintain strong external relationships to understand deal possibilities.

I have been working as an originator for six full years now, and I enjoy it very much.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?

The biggest influence on my career was my manager Travis Vining when I first became an originator. Over four years, he taught me a lot about trading, origination and how to think about strategic deals. He helped me grow from a spot desk level of commercial experience to moderate proficiency in origination and shaped the way act today. We had great success as a team during those early years, especially in our initial renewables and firming projects.

What was like to switch from being a spot trader to working on longer trades as an originator?

The originator role involves a lot more research and looking for opportunities that have never been done before. I went from a fast physical trading world to a slower, more financially focussed world. In the beginning, there was only three of us in the power trading team, but we soon we grew into a larger team when Shell acquired ERM Power in 2019.

What’s a career highlight that you’re proud of from the past 12 months?

One of my career highlights was leading the commercial offtakes for two Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) projects, Koorangie and Rangebank, which will provide 385MW of firming storage capacity in Victoria as they become operational in the next two years. I was trading lead for Rangebank, which was a collaborative effort between our battery development team and the trading team. These projects involve intense cross collaboration between teams which develops stronger relationships, as we work closely together on these deals from ideation to delivery. We have good rapport and a shared strategic vision, which can make us successful.

How do projects like the Koorangie Energy Storage System help customers?

The main strategic reason for our BESS projects is to optimise supply and energy costs in a transitioning market. BESSs increase the stability of the grid by absorbing energy through the daylight hours and dispatching it in high demand periods, along with stabilising frequency and other ancillary benefit.

The Koorangie project is located in the Murray River region, near the renewable energy rich area of Kerang, Victoria. Once operational, it will form an important part of Shell Energy’s growing battery portfolio where we will have 100% offtake from the BESS, allowing complete dispatch control under a Battery Storage Services Agreement. The battery also provides a critical system strength service to the Australian Energy Market Operator.

How does the work you do as an originator contribute to the success of these projects?

As an originator, I am involved in the process from identifying to creating and possibly executing a deal. We start with an idea of the deal in its concept phase and prove it up before the contracting and execution phase. During construction, we engage with other functions to get it to the operational phase. We liaise with developers both internally and externally, ensuring all functions that will operate the asset are ready by making sure they have the tools and information they need. Once a project is fully operational, an originator will periodically check in, becoming the point of contact for all things related to the contract.

Where do you see the industry heading in the next few years? What role do batteries have in that?

We see batteries becoming more essential to managing our customers’ needs, particularly in ensuring we can offer energy at competitive prices as the transition changes the structure of the financial and commercial energy markets. Batteries are an ideal complement to managing our customers and renewable portfolio.

What excites you about the future of energy?

What’s exciting is that we keep working our way through the challenges and complexities for a more renewable future. You can see the National Electricity Market (NEM) is rapidly transitioning and Shell Energy is supporting that with our renewables and firming investments. There will be further challenges along the way and I get tremendous satisfaction from helping to solve them, something I can do for future generations.

What advice would you give someone starting out their career in energy trading? Any advice for someone looking to join Shell Energy?

My advice is to focus on mastering your role and developing your strengths and skills. Once you feel confident in your role, you can expand by offering to help other teams and discover what you like that’s different. You can learn a lot about your interests by getting your hands dirty and extending yourself beyond your comfort zone. You can also bring your skills and abilities related to your core role, that may find new use in other teams.

Related Content:

Our Projects

Pre-construction of the Rangebank Battery Energy Storage System commences

28 July 2023

Pre-construction of the 200MW/400MWh Rangebank BESS has commenced in Cranbourne, bringing essential firm capacity one step closer for Victorians. The project is being jointly developed by Shell Energy and Eku Energy, with minority equity partner, Perfection Private. Once fully operational, the battery will have enough storage capacity to power 80,000 homes for an hour during peak periods. Completion of the project is expected in late 2024.

Read more
Our Projects

15-year offtake agreement to support $400m Koorangie Energy Storage System

30 October 2023

Shell Energy is pleased to support the Koorangie Energy Storage System (KESS) in Victoria with a 15-year offtake agreement for the full 185MW / 370MWh.

Read more
Our People

Meet Ryan Archer

7 December 2023

A Senior Credit Analyst working in our consumer team, Ryan appreciates Shell Energy’s culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous growth. Building a psychologically safe environment is of the utmost importance to him, so that his team is confident to be themselves.

Read more
Subscribe to Insights