The Grim Outlook
The clean technology industry, of which renewable energy is only a small part, is already a $2 trillion industry already. Aside from the traditional renewable energy industries such as solar, wind, biomass etc. itencompassesother crucial areas such as water, energy efficiency, green transportation, energy storage and so on.
India has been experiencing supernormal growth averaging 8.5% between 2007 and 2011. The country is expected to continue on its steady growth trajectory despite global economic hiccups. Out of India’s population of 1.2 billion, a staggering 400 million people or 100 million families do not have access to electricity. Additionally, the country faced a peak deficit in the order of 12% in 2011 and faces a severe power crisis.
Our coal& oil imports have grown steadily over the last few yearsand with fuel supply issues that are currently plaguing the country the focus is shifting to renewable sources of energy, something India is blessed with in abundance. Not only does the power production capacity need to be increased to support industry growth, it also has to support the electrification of all the currently unconnected areas. All this translates to a requirement of 900 GW by 2030. A large part of this energy demand is expected to be addressed with the help of renewable energy resources.
Job Creation and Opportunities
A study in the USA, done in 2007, reported that 68,200 businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for 770,000 jobs in the green energy industry. By comparison, jobs in the fossil fuel sector -- utilities, coal mining, oil and gas extraction -- comprised about 1.27 million jobs in 2007. While it still accounts for only one-half per cent of overall jobs, the study found clean energy jobs grew at a national rate of 9.1 per cent during that nine-year period, compared to 3.7 per cent for traditional jobs.
Similar are the trends for renewable energy jobs in other parts of the world.
Worldwide efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change have created a new market, generating new opportunities, dubbed green jobs. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme, over the coming decades, millions of green jobs would be created in sectors such as energy, transport, construction, agriculture, forestry and industries. The jobs are as diverse as engineers, scientists, researchers, plumbers, administrative assistants, construction workers, machine setters, marketing consultants, teachers/trainers and others.
Alternative and Renewable Energy Jobs FAQ
Multiple universities have performed studies on the job creational effects of power generation from renewable sources. A vast majority of these studies indicate that a megawatt of solar PV capacity, on an average, creates around 6-7 jobs while the same for wind created close to 5 jobs.
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission envisions the addition of 20,000 MW of solar capacity by 2020 while the country is projected to add 18,000 MW of wind capacity in the same period. This automatically translates to a requirement of 200,000 professionals in this industry over the course of the next 8 years.
Alternative energy is a new industry, but many of the skills required by the industry are the same as those for any other industry. This section provides a sampling of traditional jobs that will be applicable to the alternative energy sector as well.
Jobs will be available in a number of different roles and with varying profiles. These will include roles for engineers, physical scientists, geophysicists and hydrologists. For instance, the fuel cell industry is hiring for positions ranging from mechanical assembler to electrochemist. Solar power jobs listed recently at a large recruitment site included solar applications engineering manager, electrical foreman and sales consultant. Wind energy jobs will include roles starting with ordinary mechanics to high end fluid flow researchers.
What types of jobs are available in renewable energy for a career in renewable energy?
Most jobs found in a traditional industry can apply to renewables. But a few fields stand out. Solar and wind turbine manufacturing plants will need assembly line workers. Mechanics, electricians and maintenance workers will be needed for wind farms, solar parks and biofuels plants. And many types of science and engineering positions will be central to the growth of the industry.
Which are the particular sectors in renewable energy industry that are hiring?
Major sectors that are hiring worldwide are in wind energy, biofuels, solar PV, recycling, greenhouse gas pollution control and water conservation.
What kind of experience is needed?
Some jobs that are core to the industry’s operations – such as wind turbine design or solar PV research – will require knowledge of the specific science and/or operations. However, there are a number of generic types of jobs that will require little or no additional training and people can transition smoothly to the green industry for these types of jobs. These jobs include those of accountants, stock clerks, security guards, electricians etc.
In this context, there are a number of community colleges in the USA and Europe that are offering training classes for more specialized jobs, such as solar panel installation, wind turbine repair and biofuels processing. An electrician, for example, can spend a couple of weeks in training and then begin installing solar panels. A plumber can similarly be trained in a few weeks to install solar thermal water heaters..
What is the salary range?
This will depend on the country, the candidate’s experience and a number of other factors. Sample data for the US are provided here, which will give the reader a general idea. A study released in 2009 by Management Information Services and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailed some median annual salaries:
- Insulation worker, $30,800;
- Recycling worker, $26,400;
- Energy audit specialist, $40,300;
- Environmental engineer, $76,000;
- Environmental engineer technician, $42,800;
- Microbiologist, $64,600;
- Physicist, $93,300.
What's the best way to break into the renewable energy industries?
The best way is always to plan and do a bit of research. Let this research help you in figuring out where your interests lie, about the match between career, opportunities and your work experience, and what sector is growing in your region. Another good idea is to volunteer at organizations, or tour businesses to see the technology and how it works. In addition, there are a number of web sites that list renewable energy jobs and job hunting tips.
Alternative energy is not an entirely new industry. Rather, for the most part the industry requires skills that are already required by (and available with) many other established industries.
For instance, a job seeker can project his/her past success in selling software as an ability to sell solar panels – because the innate ability required for sales is the same, whether the product is software or it is a solar panel. Thus, it will be more meaningful to find a directly co-related skill set that is going to be needed in the industry you are seeking employment - and then develop relationships to capitalize on them, by developing relationships and some market awareness.
Understanding the Industry Better:
If you are working in the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) area, your core skill will be required by the wind energy industry; for that, you need not undertake any extra preparations. However, it will be very useful if you spent some time reading up on the wind energy industry, its dynamics etc., and visit a few trade fairs and conference on wind energy to establish a few contacts. Participating in discussions at relevant wind energy related online sites, blogs and forums could help you establish traction with the industry as well.
Some examples of renewable energy jobs that would require only a tweaking of already acquired skills are:
Wind: Mechanical Engineer – Tower Specialist
- Perform structural design of large welded and bolted structures (typically steel), to accommodate extreme, buckling, and fatigue loads
- Generate written product specifications, work instructions, and procedures. . Disposition hardware non-conformances and support root cause analyses
- Develop innovative new concepts for structures and mechanisms, and refine existing ones, to support wind turbine machine components with high reliability and at low cost
- Perform and lead generation and formal release of CAD models, detail fabrication drawings, assembly drawings, and bills of materials
- Address corrosion of nearshore and offshore structures
- Define new-product test requirements, support qual tests, and follow through to manufacturing cut-in
- Create project reports and perform design reviews and presentations.
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering with structural design experience.
- Strong capability and experience with structural analysis methods, preferably including standard closed-form methods, finite element analysis NASTRAN, MathCAD, or equivalent.
- Fatigue and fracture mechanics experience is desirable.
- Proficiency with CAD software, Pro-Engineer Wildfire 3.0
- Familiarity with standard welding symbols and standards
- Knowledge of the metric system, metric hardware and metric fit tolerances
- Familiar with standard metal coatings and corrosion mitigation measures.
Electrical Engineer for Wind
Working with the electrical team, organising the grid connections and assembly of the transformer station.
- An Electrical Engineering degree
- Experience of grid connections and grid providers
- Experience with transformers, substations, connectors; and their assembly.
Solar Photovoltaic Construction Manager
- Manage crews, negotiate change orders, enforce sites safety etc. on major solar installations.
- Bachelors Degree in Construction Management and/or Construction Administration
- Relevant construction management experience
- Time management and project scheduling skills.
- Hands on skills with solar installations
- A sound knowledge of applicable codes and safety standards
Solar Structured Finance Manager
Develop finance structures, products, and services to deliver financing, leasing, and electricity to projects. The manager closely coordinates efforts with project managers, regional business managers and other team members.
- Developing project financing strategy, pricing, and cost parameters for projects
- Developing strategic partnerships with leading finance community companies, entities, and individuals
- Managing and strengthening new and existing bank and lease partner relationships
- Tracking renewable energy credit markets and devising strategies for their integration
- Developing new financial structures and partnering relationships.
Education and Experience
- A degree in finance, accounting, or other relevant field is required.
- A Masters Degree in a quantitative field; MBA and/or completed coursework in accounting and finance is a plus.
- Financial modeling or related experience and experience in the project finance, leasing, or equipment finance industries.
Electrical Engineer for Solar Energy Companies
Responsibilities include working with a team to design/engineer solar electric and wind energy systems, provide engineering calculations, produce construction documents, field assessments, review feasibility reports, and provide installation oversight and systems commissioning. Will interface with clients, architects, utility representatives and code officials, as well as oversee and guide up-and-coming engineers in training.
- BSEE or MSEE with experience in building power systems design and/or renewable energy systems design
- Protective relay with medium and low voltage experience is ideal
- Ability to manage several projects simultaneously
- A high level of computer skills and CAD capabilities
- Thorough knowledge of the national electrical codes
Lab Manager – Ethanol
Oversee all responsibilities of the lab including following quality control practices and procedures to ensure the highest yields possible during the conversion of starch to ethanol
- Bachelors Degree in science field (Bilogy, Microbiology, etc.)
- Experience with fermentation, efficiency assessment, microbial stability, and cost assessments.
Energy Efficiency Consultant
Managing projects of a large size requiring IOU coordination and a great deal of consensus building; participating in cross functional teams to develop and investigate complex technologies; Analyzing engineering technology; using computer simulation modeling tools to obtain energy savings estimates; conducting technical analysis of potential energy efficient measures in accordance to predefined codes and standards; quantifying and communicating the results to various members of the energy efficiency team, and participating in statewide forums as necessary; reviewing third party suggestions for energy efficiency initiatives and drafting written comments on them regarding their potential for energy savings, economics viability and overall feasibility.
- Experience in HVAC. Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering or a similar engineering discipline.
- Experience with thermal simulation models. Demonstrated knowledge and experience with regulations, guides, standards, codes, methods, practices, and advanced engineering principles necessary to perform complex or unique evaluations for energy efficiency analysis, verification and planning. Experience in a lead role in planning, prioritizing, scheduling, and coordinating multiple engineering projects with minimal supervision. Knowledge of the following specific fields of engineering science: fluid flow, thermodynamics, heat transfer, energy systems, power systems, process design and control, materials, electrical systems, and engineering economic analysis.
- Experience with sustainable design, refrigeration and/or central plant systems. Demonstrated experience managing contract documents and experience interpreting and applying specifications, and following established policies and procedures. Knowledge of state / federal energy efficiency regulatory and/or policy environment.
Clean Technology: A bigger opportunity
But what really needs to be noted is that renewable energy only represents a small pie of the entire clean technology industry. The implications for job creation are stunning considering the range of industries it covers. Let us consider some other areas of clean technology and their job generation possibilities.
A shift towards sustainable transport would mean greater reliance on public transports like trains, trams and buses:
- Bus rapid transit systems would become a major employer offering substantial jobs, for instance, in retrofitting diesel buses and in managing CNG or hybrid buses. In New Delhi, the introduction of 6,100 CNG buses would create 18,000 jobs
Buildings and Construction
Buildings have the capacity to reduce projected emissions by 29% by 2020. As the next decade sees a transition to energy-efficient buildings:
- 111 million people, in construction, would use new building technology
- Construction of green buildings, by retrofitting, and using efficient home appliances, would generate up to 3.5 million jobs in Europe and the US by 2030. The potential is higher in developing countries like ours.
Agriculture and Forestry
Emissions from agriculture could rise by 30% between 2012 and 2020. Hence, there is a need to focus on organic farming, small farms and local food supply. These are potential sources of green jobs:
- Small farms and local food supply can promote local employment
- Since deforestation contributes to 18 per cent of all GHG emissions, planting trees and sustainable forestry would create jobs, mostly in developing and poor countries
It is difficult to reduce the carbon footprint of heavy industries like steel, aluminium, cement and paper. Since recycling helps save energy and reduce pollution, recycling industries would grow rapidly offering new jobs
Other factoids for job creation potential from renewable energy sources:
- With solar cells (PV), the U.S. growth potential can be seen in the recent expansion from small rooftop installations to commercial generating facilities covering several square miles. A billion dollars invested in solar cell installations generates 1,480 jobs.
- Solar thermal power plants are labour-intensive. They have the potential togenerate 2,270 jobs per billion dollars invested.
- Another avenue that saves energy while creating jobs is urban transit, both light rail and buses.
- In terms of job creation, according to a study, investment in retrofitting buildings creates more than seven times as many jobs as a similar investment in coal-fired power plants.
Green is the next wave. Honing acquired skills to match this sector’s requirements would only serve to increase the breadth of opportunities available to the candidate and equip them to ride the green tsunami!