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Energy & Utilities careers

Solar, Wind & Geothermal

Environmentally friendly forms of energy

Solar, wind and geothermal power are all methods that harness naturally occurring sources of ‘green’ energy. Most countries are now looking to utilise these methods in their quest to reduce their carbon emissions each year. Wind farm cities, solar panels galore and volcanic rocks are the order of the day in this new environmentally friendly world.

This industry is experiencing huge growth and is earmarked as a long-term replacement for the use of fossil fuels.

Governments, multinational companies and pretty much anybody with an interest in how they power their cars and houses will eventually have to place their trust in one of these ‘green’ energy sources.

What is the solar energy sector like?

Solar energy is probably the best known of these, in the form of those panels that we’ve all seen. Whether on somebody’s roof, on a concept car or even a plane (seriously!), panels are used to convert solar radiation into direct current electricity.

Scientists are required to devise the process for creating electricity and engineers are tasked with designing the contraptions that actually work. The materials for these solar panels also need to be sourced, the products need to be taken to market and then they also need to be installed and maintained. Incidentally, the world of solar power offers a decent variety of career opportunities.

What is the wind energy sector like?

Wind energy has seen a particularly big boost from the UK government lately, with literally millions of pounds being invested into the many wind farms set to appear over the coming years. Although wind energy only contributes around 2.5% of worldwide electricity usage, this has been increasing by 25% every year since 2010.

Again, the career opportunities available here are extremely varied. Turbines need to be designed, built, implemented and maintained and the energy produced needs to be distributed – and that’s just scratching the surface!

What is the geothermal energy sector like?

Geothermal energy is known to be reliable, effective and environmentally friendly. However, the issue is that it’s generally reserved to places near tectonic plate boundaries, and is only a commercially viable source of energy in 24 countries.

Despite this, one huge plus for geothermal power is, bar set up costs, it requires no fuel and is exempt from fuel cost fluctuations. Opportunities are limited in the UK but are gradually beginning to grow. Consequently, if you want to work in this area, you could even explore a career abroad.

How is solar energy created?

Solar energy’s uses span architecture, agriculture, lighting, heating, ventilation, water treatment, cooking, transport and many others. The sun is a powerful beast and a free beast at that. Solar panels are the rock stars of the solar energy world, using photovoltaics to create energy.

This is an industry on the up and presents many opportunities. Engineering, science and design are the kings here. If you want to be involved in creating technologies that can power the world after oil disappears, this is certainly a route for you to explore.

How is wind energy created?

Wind energy is unbelievably straightforward. Wind blows a propeller, the propeller turns, which triggers a generator that creates energy. The usual practice is to build a huge collection of these propellers in a particularly windy area, usually on the coast or often literally out at sea. Land is the big issue here. Farms can take up miles and miles of land. Given that the UK is a relatively small island, individuals are required to hunt for suitable locations, negotiate reasonable deals and get planning permission.

How is geothermal energy created?

Geothermal energy relies on the centre of the earth, namely the 6000 degree mass that sits at the earth’s core and emerges around tectonic plates and volcanoes. Holes are drilled deep down into the earth to heated areas where water is sent down and returned as steam. Power stations sit at the top of all this, with technicians, engineers and managers required to ensure the smooth running of the facility.

Renewable energy is just about the trendiest thing in science at the moment. People are not only worried about the pollution that comes hand in hand with burning fossil fuels, but also with the fact that these same fuels are running out. Renewable energies solve both of these problems! So, if you’re a problem-solver fuelled by an ambition to clean up the earth before it gets too hot, a job in the solar, wind or geothermal sectors might well be perfect for you!