Today the entire world is abuzz with one word- Clean Energy. This has set an upward spiral in the need for jobs in this sector. With India having set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable power by 2022, that includes 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from biomass power and 5 GW from small hydropower, this sector would get an additional push.
Who are Renewable Energy Engineers?
Renewable energy engineers are people who are a part of the growing sector of green jobs that involve environmentally conscious production. Energy engineers apply their skills to increase efficiency and further develop renewable sources of energy. The main job of energy engineers is to find the most efficient and sustainable ways to operate buildings and manufacturing processes. Energy engineers audit the use of energy in those processes and suggest ways to improve the systems. This means suggesting advanced lighting, better insulation, more efficient heating and cooling properties of buildings.
These individuals maximize the energy potential of clean energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower. They also monitor and develop alternative energy outputs. Although an energy engineer is concerned about obtaining and using energy in the most environmentally friendly ways, their field is not limited to strictly renewable energy like hydro, solar, biomass, or geothermal.
Difference between Energy Engineering and Renewable Energy Engineering
At times used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two. Energy Engineering is a wide field of study which includes Renewable Energy. Energy engineering is a broad field of engineering dealing with energy efficiency, energy services, plant engineering, environmental compliance, and alternative energy technologies which combines knowledge from the fields of physics, math, and chemistry with economic and environmental engineering practices.
Some renewable energy programs may be found in engineering departments at colleges and universities. To get into Renewable Energy, you should get into it at a Masters level since you would be able to build upon the base you acquired in an undergraduate course in Engineering.
* University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, offering M.Tech in Renewable Energy Engineering.
* University of Lucknow, Lucknow, offering M Sc Renewable Energy
* University of Kota, Kota offering M Sc Energy Studies.
* University of Pune, Pune offering M. Tech, Energy Studies.
* IIT, Delhi, offering interdisciplinary M. Tech, Energy Studies, and Interdisciplinary M Tech Energy & Environment Management.
* Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, offering M. Tech Energy Science and Engineering
* VIT University, Vellore offering M. Tech, Energy & Environmental Engineering
* National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli offering M. Tech in Energy Engineering.
Renewable energy engineers, much like energy engineers in general, can be responsible for a number of things. For example, a renewable energy engineer may serve as a researcher or consultant, examining ways to improve energy extraction projects to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. Or he may work in the mechanical sector, designing machines and other devices to harness energy more efficiently. A good example of this kind of engineering can be found in the production of solar energy. Engineers with a background in mechanical engineering are in demand to design and build solar energy systems, which include parts such as solar panels.
Some jobs that are core to the industry’s operations – such as wind turbine design or solar PV research 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. Major sectors that would hire you are in wind energy, biofuels, solar PV, recycling, greenhouse gas pollution control, and water conservation.
Energy engineers are not only utilized in the energy generation sphere but also within manufacturing environments where they are used to reduce overall energy consumption by analyzing and optimizing existing systems. There are many consulting firms in India like GIST advisory etc. which works in the field of environment and sustainability.
You may work in the following roles
Green building engineer
Today, infrastructure developers are constantly looking at building structures that make the most effective use of energy. This means that every single aspect of the construction and design needs to be analyzed from an energy efficiency perspective. This includes the procurement of energy efficient raw materials all the way to the design of the structure. Some buildings even produce and store their own energy. As a green building engineer, you would analyze the energy usage of existing buildings and recommend ways to improve energy efficiency and design buildings that make use of passive methods to cool and heat themselves.
Energy Systems Engineer
An energy system engineer’s (ESE) focus is on the bigger picture in terms of energy use. An ESE is tasked with improving energy storage systems, managing energy distribution, analyzing the effect of energy practices on the local environment, and understating the effects of energy-related activities on the economy. You need to have a broad knowledge of basic engineering all the way to the economics of energy systems. You would be responsible for analyzing existing energy plants and systems to determine their efficiency and recommend ways to improve it and evaluate the economic and environmental impact of new energy installations.
Alternative Energy Researcher
As an alternative energy researcher, you would be researching and designing renewable technologies and methods and also the design of renewable energy systems such as solar and wind plants besides optimization of existing energy systems. Innovation is key. This innovation is driven by fierce competition which has the dual effect of pushing the technology to its limit and decreasing the overall cost. This drive is not apparent in the coal and nuclear field as the barrier to entry is so high. The time taken to bring a solar farm or wind farm online is significantly shorter than building a new conventional power plant.
Solar isn’t the biggest or the cheapest form of renewable energy. It’s not quite up to utility-scale, but it’s on its way. With increasing success in making solar power a storable energy source, our lights could be sun-powered whether we have photovoltaic (PV) panels on our roofs or not. Solar installers are at the core of the industry; they’re the people putting solar panels on roofs which we’re sure to see more and more of in the coming future.
As with many industries, data science, machine learning and big data analytics are also transforming the energy sector by providing insights to reduce costs and allowing oil producers to adjust to market demands in boom times. The solar industry is rapidly embracing ways to analyze and crunch data in order to lower the cost of solar energy and to open up new markets for their technology. As a data scientist, you would be able to contribute a lot to the renewable energy market.
Wind Turbine Fabricator
As the number of installed megawatts of wind power continues to grow , so does the army of workers required to supply, set up and service the huge turbines that generate the electricity. Those 30-to-60-meter blades don’t take care of themselves.
The technical aspect of wind power, including fabrication, installation and maintenance, is a tremendously growing field. As with solar, hands-on wind energy jobs have a wide range of pay scales depending on experience and specialty.
The Road Ahead
Given the increasing use of sustainable energy solutions, the demand for renewable energy engineers will no doubt increase in the coming year. India’s renewable energy sector, including the solar and wind power generation segments, could create new job opportunities between 2 million and 4.5 million over the next 25 years.
Therefore, if you wish to be a part of building a clean future, hop on to the renewable energy bandwagon.