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Building a Career in the Renewable Energy Industry

Industry Analysis of Renewable energy industry

If a career change is on your mind, then Renewable Energy, commonly referred to as the Green or Clean Energy Industry, can be an attractive career path. Not only will you be a part of a movement that is helping to save the environment but also of an industry that may completely replace the conventional (or non-renewable, fossil, non-green, etc.) energy industry in the future. But is it a growing industry right now? How does the industry operate? What is the expected future growth in the industry? Who are the top companies?

Well, here are the answers to these questions and a bit more.

What is Green, Clean, and Renewable Energy?

Clean or green energy is produced from natural replenishable resources (like air, sunlight, wind, etc.), and its production does not harm the environment. In comparison, renewable energy is produced through replenishable resources but can also release greenhouse gases and waste during the process (like biogas). Both renewable and green energy is produced through renewable sources that are naturally replenishable but produce a limited amount of energy that is available per unit of time. Therefore, all clean and green energy sources are renewable, but not all renewable resources are clean and green.

The renewable energy industry includes the following green energy and other alternative energy sources, which can be replenished naturally and produces minimal waste in production:

a) Biomass

b) Hydropower

c) Geothermal

d) Wind

e) Solar

f) Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

g) Nuclear

The Future of the Renewable Energy Industry

The global renewable energy market was valued at $888.1 billion in 2020. The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% from 2021 and reach $1,977.6 billion by 2030. Despite suffering from rising prices of essential commodities, increased shipping costs, and supply chain constraints, the capacity installation has remained high.

According to reports from International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy saw a 3% increase in 2020. The primary driver was the use of renewable sources in electricity generation. The share of electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose from 27% to 29% in 2019-20. Global renewable electricity capacity is expected to rise to 4800 GW (gigawatt), a growth of 60% between 2020 and 26. Renewables are estimated to account for 95% of the total increase in global power capacity through 2026. Some factors responsible for the surge in demand for renewable energy are:

  • Rapid technology improvements
  • Decreasing costs of energy sources
  • Increased competitiveness of battery storage
  • The global push for carbon footprint reduction
  • Favorable government policies
  • COP26 Climate Conference

Employment prospects in the Renewable Industry

According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), global employment in the renewable energy sector was estimated at 12 million in 2020, 4.3% up from 2019. With 4 million workers, the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) industry employs one-third of the total renewable workforce. Besides solar, bio-energy with 3.5 million jobs, hydropower with 2.2 million, and wind power industries with 1.25 million jobs have been the largest categories. Renewable energy also has a diverse workforce with; 32% female workforce and 39% of the total employment in renewables in China. Employment to grow up to 122 million jobs in the sector globally by 2050,  out of which 43 million will be in renewables. The solar PV sector will provide close to 20 million jobs by 2050, as the leading employer among renewables, followed by bioenergy, wind, and hydropower.

Currently, China is the global leader in solar manufacturing, making it one of the biggest employers in the renewables industry. On the other hand, the US market is pushing to increase employment in renewables, which is good news. For example, Taiwan semiconductors recently announced plans to build a $12 billion manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, creating 1,900 jobs. Samsung is also planning to build a $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in the U.S. The U.S. government has also made two strategic moves to boost employment in solar manufacturing:

  • An executive order is passed to conduct a 100-day review of the semiconductor supply chain. If clean energy and semiconductors are strategic to national security, which will generate significant employment.
  • They are also lobbying for $37 billion in funding for legislation to bolster semiconductor manufacturing in the United States.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technicians and solar panel installers are the second-fastest-growing jobs in the country. Solar and wind energy jobs are growing 12 times faster than the US economy. Being a technology-led sector, tech roles in renewable energy are more than other businesses. If you are interested in working in the industry, we have prepared a brief list of popular job roles in the sector.

1) Financial Analysts

Financial analysts in energy, efficiency, and governmental & regulatory administration perform quantitative analyses on investment programs of public or private institutions. They prepare budgets, develop cost control initiatives, and assist with corporate accounting functions. Their national average salary is $70,000.

2) Energy Manager

Energy managers help organizations reduce their energy usage and manage their energy needs. They monitor usage to understand the energy needs of the business operations and help develop sustainability programs and implement systems to control energy consumption. Their national average salary is $78,000.

3) Civil Engineers 

Civil Engineers in green construction and renewable energy generation plan, design, and oversee the construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities in these companies. They are also responsible for environmental compliance and ensure all environmental procedures are met in the project. Their national average salary is $84,000.

4) Sustainability Engineer

Sustainability engineers are responsible for designing and creating systems that adhere to specifications. They develop models and collect data using mapping technology and different tools to devise designs. Their national average salary is $90,000.

5) Environmental Health and Safety Officer

The environmental health and safety officer ensures the implementation of health and safety protocols. In addition, they inspect the workplace and homes to ensure the space is safe and free of health risks. Their national average salary is $108,000.

6) Solar Consultant

A solar consultant develops strategies that help businesses and other clients reduce their energy. They assess the energy consumption and inform their clients of their usage. They may also provide consultancy to clients about their solar needs and sell solar products. Their national average salary is $111,000.

How to break into the Renewable Energy industry

If you are interested in building a career in the renewable energy industry, you may need a bit of technical know-how as it is a technology-based industry. Technical knowledge provides you with deeper insights into companies’ operations and functions while also diversifying your skill-set. We suggest following the below steps to improve your profile for renewable energy jobs:

  1. Read about the products and technologies involved in various renewable energy production and identify your interests.
  2. Find social and public groups that help communities with renewable energy needs and assistance—volunteer or work with these groups to gain experience in the renewable energy industry of your interest.
  3. You can also opt for specialized training or certification courses to gain qualifications and give your application a boost
  4. You can also start from an internship to build your experience in the renewable sector of your interest.
  5. Keep up with the industry news, trends, development, and technology.
  6. Review and update your resume.
  7. Research the employers in the industry. It helps you understand the trends, requirements, and work culture. According to Bloomberg, the new energy giants are renewable companies:
  1. Once you have shortlisted companies of your preference, we recommend engaging with them by reaching out, connecting, and developing a relationship.

Renewable energy is a fast-growing industry. The rising awareness about climate change has pushed governments worldwide to strive for carbon neutrality as quickly as possible. As a result, the industry has seen tremendous growth from 2010 to 2020 and is projected to further rise in this decade. If you find your niche in the renewable energy industry, we highly recommend looking into jobs with established companies.