As growing interest in ‘green’ and sustainability issues rises, new opportunities will emerge and new careers will be created. Some of the future energy workforce will continue to be involved in the primary energy related industries of oil, gas and coal, particularly as research is pursued to increase their greenness and use efficiency.
The U.S. Department of Energy through its Office for Science has designated several areas where energy changes are occurring and points to several new areas drawing research attention in particular. The European Union has indicated several areas where it foresee’s a need for education and training. These include;
- Cleaner energy systems, including renewables
- Economic and efficient energy for a competitive Europe
- Study of socio-economic aspects of energy within the perspective of
- sustainable development (impact on society, the economy and employment)
Pacific Gas and Electric will be offering several classes in 2009 for those interested in learning about energy efficiency. ‘Power to Change’ – as program of Intelligent Energy Europe provides online media for those interested in learning more about energy across Europe. ‘FoundryBench’ is another Intelligent Energy project that aims to help people to learn about benchmarking energy efficiency.? Across Europe, industries and companies might decide to acquire Green Building Partner Status. The Center for Energy offers number of educational modules in both renewable and non-renewable energy related areas.
A Careers in Wind Job Board is offered by the American Wind Association.? The European Wind Energy Association expects that the number of wind related jobs will double by 2020. Meanwhile Oilcareers has several jobs listed as available on its Energy Job Board.
An increasing amount of work is being conducted in the area of electrical GRIDs and we are likely to see a rise in the number of GRID related positions each step along the way as traditional energy prices rise.
It is important to understand that energy careers follow separated career paths that do not always touch or come together under one entity. Energy production including oil, gas, etc. is more centrally related to exploration, geology and drilling or mining operations. But the distribution side of the equation, apart from production, is more connected to the consumer and where they live, their rate of energy use and working with energy efficiency technologies.
New to the mix are the renewable energy technologies. Wind, wave and solar are wholly new technologies and the production of products (i.e. photovoltaics) involves considerable research. The entire area of GRID networks based on renewable energies is a growth area involving new approaches for producing and distributing energy.
So called ‘green’ technologies and sustainability issues will necessarily collapse the production and distribution sides together because they necessitate an understanding of production against energy utilisation. Very few people are trained for understanding and developing solutions that can handle this change. Subsequently, new education programs which provide for more holistic training and education in sustainable energy’s systems are poised to become highly in demand.
Clearly a need exists to develop suitable education and training materials that can look at energy through different approach, both technologically and conceptually.