The importance of recycling, reducing our plastic usage and renewable energy is still just as important today as it was when it first made major headlines. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is something we can all be doing to reduce our carbon footprint and as a renewable energy engineer, you can do just that. Over the last few years, there has been more and more media coverage about what we’re doing to help things like plastic usage in supermarkets. There have been many oil protests and plenty of news that, even if you try, you just can’t escape. There is more time and effort going into talking and thinking about our planet's energy, resources and how we use them on a day-to-day basis. So where do you come in?
Renewable energy is desperately needed for a variety of reasons, and the world needs engineers that are going to help governments and countries reach their emission goals. The demand for engineers working in the renewable sector is strong and will no doubt continue to increase in the years to come. Engineers are needed to research, design and construct ways to improve the way we use energy and resources. This includes reducing what we currently use, finding a way to reuse these materials and new innovative ways to create energy - but it doesn’t stop there. Whether you’re actively working or searching for a role in this sector or your engineering skills are being used elsewhere, this may be the next career step for you. Find out why.
The importance of renewable energy sources
Not only is the renewable and sustainability sector an incredibly rewarding part of engineering to work in, but it gives many engineers the chance to be creative. Whether you work in electrical or bio engineering, being able to problem solve and come up with innovative ideas to stretch and push boundaries is something they do in every sector. Engineers are there to create, inspire and develop. This is exactly the skill set that renewable engineering is needing.
It’s clear that we’re only beginning to understand more about renewable forms of energy and relying on fossil fuels is not sustainable in the long-run. We all know the impacts this type of energy has on our climate, so why do we still use them? It all comes down to ease and availability. If one thing is proven to work, provides the energy we need and makes money, why would we change? So engineers in this sector are needed to find an alternative. Of course, we already have a plethora of knowledge on the subject.
According to National Geographic carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are continuing to rise, hitting record levels in 2018. Excessive use of these types of energy sources does more than just damage the wildlife and plants around us, it is damaging our ability to breath fresh and clean air. When you burn fossil fuel, it’s gone, but the effects are long-lasting on us and the planet. The planet needs worldwide support in order to change the way we live. That is why engineers are so important.
Renewable sources have countless benefits and being clean sources of energy is just one of them. We need more and more people to develop ideas and help us bring technology forward. According to the American Society of Engineers, just about 20% of the world’s electricity comes from renewable power sources. (2019) With the help of engineers everywhere, we can make that into an even higher percentage and begin to heal the planet.
Renewable energy sources
As mentioned above, we have a tonne of knowledge already on the renewable engineering sector, so not everything is about forming new ideas and ways of making energy. If you’d prefer to work on something already out there, with research and proven ways of working, there are tons of sub-sectors you can work in.
- Wind Energy (Turbines)
- Solar energy (Solar panel farms and roof panels)
- Hydraulic and hydroelectric energy
- Tidal and wave energy
- Biodiesel (organic fuel for vehicles obtained from used food and vegetable oils)
A lot of these industries have plenty of room for improvement as well. So, don’t think that just because you choose to work in one of these sub-sectors within this industry, it means there won’t be room for improvement. One of the things many engineers love about their sectors is the room to grow, learn and develop. Whether it be you as an engineer or the tech itself.
Cleaner energy can help bring us forward with both technology and a guarantee of energy supply. Today’s renewable engineers are spending their time utilising the renewable sources they have already discovered, whilst using their creativity to find new sources and potential new ideas. There is room for creativity in all areas of engineering. Also don’t feel like you’ll be limited to one. You don’t have to choose one part of engineering and stick to it. There’s room for a whole range of skill sets. In fact, many employers welcome a range of skills, it can bring diversity and range to the workplace.
Fight against climate change
It’s been proven that the renewable energy types above (and more) don’t have the same negative effects on our climate that other energy sources may do. Being able to change small things in your home and with the way you live can help prevent further damage to the environment. Using solar panels and other types of energy in your home can really help, one person really can make a difference. Clean energies are made available by natural cycles, like the sun and the power of the wind and oceans, using these can stop us risking our planet's future.
Whether you believe so or not, if you work in this industry (and many others) you are contributing to a healthy change for the planet. Not everything is about finding new ways to make energy. It can be about the little helps and your day-to-day job that make the biggest difference. If everyone makes small changes and helps in their own way, there will be change. So, if you don’t feel like this industry is for you yet, or even in the future, there are other things you can do to help. It’s not all about the big steps.
People are becoming more and more aware about the damage we are causing to our planet. People want to be using renewable energy sources, so they scope them out. It’s all about supply and demand. Consumers want to use eco-friendly companies and according to Acciona, a group dedicated to the development and management of infrastructure and renewable energy, the high demand for cleaner energy is causing companies to reduce their costs and bring in more engineers to develop more ideas.
Renewables can play a leading role in helping the government to tackle the skills shortage in STEM. Providing budding engineers with knowledge on how they can make a difference economically will open up a whole new world of ideas. There is money in the renewables sector and it is time to take advantage. You not only get to have a great fulfilling engineering career, you get to help make a change. There is also more money in the sector, than there ever was. You’ve probably heard about the government's goals for 2030, how exactly are they going to reach them without you and other engineers? There is more need for resources, meaning more jobs and earning potential than there was before.
Why become a renewable energy engineer?
Engineers are, more often than not, very determined workers, they use their job to fuel their passion and when you are passionate about something, you may often get the best results. In renewables you will be introduced to a whole new world of ideas and potential future technologies. You will learn about the dangers of other energy forms and how they are impacting us as a society. Being passionate about sustainability and the environment is a good place to start.
As an engineer working in the renewable energy industry, you will be needed. There is so much room in the industry for new and experienced engineers to bring new skills and ideas. We can always improve and that is why we need engineers like you. It is rapidly developing, and you could be the next engineer to have that breakthrough. Always do what you love and make a difference whilst doing it.