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Energy is an in-match mechanic for marines, which works in a similar way to experience and levels of other video games. Energy generates passively at a constant rate (based on a suit's Energy Regeneration attribute), and can also be increased through killing enemies, collecting energy batteries, using power cells and completing missions.
Upon accumulating enough energy a suit will increase its energy level, which will produce an energy unit which can be applied to a suit's component (skill), increasing its level.
A marine can transfer energy units between components during the mission by decreasing the level of a component so that the energy point can be spent elsewhere. However, transferring energy is taxing on the suit and will cost nanites (Armor Points) each time it is done, and also triggers a short cooldown period, preventing the removal of more energy units from that suit's component. Note that some components, like the Medic's Lifedrone ability, cannot have their level decreased!