Let’s study in detail what you need to know about making a career in the renewable energy industry. yes, earning a living while saving the planet should not have to be mutually exclusive. In this post, we aim to inspire budding engineers and technologists for a better more sustainable world.
There’s a certain degree of satisfaction one gets when working in the field of renewable energy. it is because you’re working to fix the energy problem of the world, and making our planet greener in the process. the exciting bit is anyone with an interest in renewable energy can make a career in this field. the renewable energy industry as we all know has seen exponential growth in the last decade, and it’s a great opportunity to develop a career in this field today rather than tomorrow.
Let’s try to answer the following questions.
- What kind of renewable energy jobs are available?
- How much salary I can expect?
- What kind of skills do I need?
- Can I create my own business in renewables?
There are a variety of rules available in the renewable energy sector, and they’re not just limited to technical jobs. for example, you can start your business in renewable energy, or provide administrative support. we will cover them later, but first, we look at jobs that require a technical skillset.
Renewable energy, as we know, has a wide portfolio with wind, solar, hydro, marine, and biomass all in the mix. the range of technical skills required is also diverse. but fall mainly under mechanical electrical and civil engineering. wherein mind renewable energy technology is not a new or entirely different technology.
What kind of renewable energy jobs are available?
It is in fact the coming together of mechanical electrical and electronics technology, which simply deals with energy sources that are renewable. and so even for technical jobs, you don’t have to have a specific degree in renewable energy. the skills that you learn in the above-mentioned fields of engineering that is mechanical electrical, electronics, and civil are very much applicable.
For example, when it comes to designing wind turbines, it is a task that heavily involves the knowledge of mechanical engineering. getting the system online requires electrical engineering skills. construction of dams or installation of turbines requires the knowledge of civil engineering. and even if we trace the life of one type of renewable energy product, let’s say a wind turbine we can identify the different job roles in the various phases of the lifecycle. these phases can be as follows.
- Design and manufacturing.
- Supply chain management.
- Sales and administration.
- Installation and commissioning.
- Operation and maintenance.
So you can see that although most phases largely require technical roles, there are non-technical tasks. also for example in the coordination of work project management for managing supply chain and handling other commercial issues. one interesting team to note here is that compared to non-renewable sources like coal, gas, fire, or nuclear power plant. the number of jobs created in the renewable energy sector per megawatt of installation is more. a report by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) suggests that wind farms may produce between 0.4 and 1.4 jobs per megawatt of capacity during the construction phase, and 0.06 and 2.2 jobs per megawatt for operation and maintenance.
So to sum up some of the technical positions in the renewable energy industry are as follows.
- Design engineer.
- Development engineer.
- Systems engineer.
- Installation engineer.
- Commissioning engineer.
- Maintenance engineer.
These jobs exist for almost any portfolio of renewable energy technology, namely, wind, hydro, marine, and solar. and as mentioned before with a degree in mechanical electrical electronics or civil engineering you can apply for many of these roles.
If you have already worked in the power sector, many of the skills are transferable. for example, wind turbines and even solar farms are looking to move offshore. and therefore people with experience in developing offshore rigs are needed to create floating platforms for wind turbines or making underwater tripods or more pod pile foundations.
How much salary I can expect?
So let’s now look at how much one can expect to earn from these jobs. we will use the data from the wind turbine industry. for good analysis, we have to split the jobs into three categories.
- Tier 1 Jobs.
- Tier 2 Jobs.
- Tier 3 Jobs.
Tier 1 jobs or positions, which require a high amount of skills and experience. tier 2 jobs that require a moderate amount of skills. these jobs are occupied mostly by fresh graduates or less experienced engineers. and tier 3 jobs that require more hands-on skills.
A salary range in tier 1 jobs is about £45,000 per annum and above. in tier 2 people earned between £25,000 – 40,000. while in Tier 3 one can earn a respectable £16,000-£30,000 per annum.
While there are graduate and postgraduate programs in renewable energy available in many universities, but even when specialized knowledge is required. one can simply abridge that skill gap through short courses. this specialized knowledge would be required in jobs that deal with renewable energy resource estimation for example.
What kind of skills do I need?
We will now talk a bit about how you can still earn a living in renewables without having a technical background. there are quite a few renewable technologies that have been scaled out. these include run-of-the-river hydro schemes, wind turbines for farms, and even solar panels for the roof. one can always look for sales jobs in these areas.
As mentioned before, at times, there will be technical knowledge required. but it is not much and it is easily covered by short courses. these courses are offered not only by educational institutions but by many other industry-based training centers. likewise one can also become a sustainability practitioner without telling too much on the technical side.
Can I create my own business in renewables?
You can help the organization get more environmentally friendly and aid them to comply with standards. such as ISO 14000. believe it or not, you don’t require technical knowledge for doing so. please note that organizations are continually trying to reduce their carbon footprint. this is both to meet the customer expectations and demands by the local government. and just like we have professionals that look after management and health, and safety in any organization, we also have professional starts with reducing the carbon footprint. this professional could be you.
People with a degree in law can also make a career in renewable. for example drawing up Power Purchase Agreements, IP protection, regulation compliance, planning permission are just some of the areas where people with the knowledge of the law are needed in the Renewable sector.
So finally we conclude what we have covered in the post that although there are mostly technical jobs available in the field of renewable energy there are also a variety of rules that are not technical. anyone can carve a career in this field if they have interests right aptitude and a positive attitude.
You may also like to read: Renewable Energy Subsidies: Pros and Cons.