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What’s going on in the renewable energy industry? An overview of the market

Matthew Bowles our consultant managing the role
Published on 21 June 2017

2017 has, so far, been a rollercoaster year in the energy industry. Along with President Trump’s promise to revitalise the coal and gas industries, the threat of climate change is motivating people to find alternative sources of energy and make the switch to a less carbon-intensive way of creating power.

Renewable energy may just be the answer to this problem. With sources of energy like wind power, solar power and even hydropower becoming ever cheaper, renewable energy is gaining traction as a viable alternative to coal, gas and even nuclear power, with knock-on effects for the energy industry as a whole.

Renewables ramp up

Indeed, renewable energy is experiencing somewhat of a worldwide boom, with more investment in the market than ever before. Solar and wind technology is becoming more sophisticated, and as a result has become more affordable; this, combined with the very real prospect of a carbon-constrained future and a rapid decline in the global cost of electricity, means that the renewable energy market is becoming a source of investment for large corporations. There has been a spike in corporate energy investment in renewable energy, as well as a movement towards localised energy, with community-led schemes like solar powered villages being implemented.

Market growth leads to more jobs

All of this has led to positive growth in the renewable energy sector, with demand for skilled workers soaring due to an increasing number of projects on windfarms and solar farms in Europe and across the world. Indeed, onshore wind is now the cheapest source of new power generation and is experiencing rising popularity. There has been growth in the number of offshore wind farm projects, with countries like Germany and the UK due to commence projects this year. Several projects situated in the seas just off the Netherlands are also expected to start construction shortly, with a corresponding demand for skilled workers in roles as diverse as project managers to maintenance engineers.

In addition to wind’s popularity, solar growth has leapt by 50% in the past year thanks to renewed interest from America and China. China recently shot to the top of the renewable energy index after announcing plans to spend £280bn on developing renewable power capacity by 2022 and creating an estimated 13 million jobs, mostly through solar power. India has also announced plans to invest, and wants to generate 175GW of renewable energy by 2022 to meet its target of a 40% renewable energy grid by 2040. Expect a corresponding increase in projects, and in the staff required to plan and execute large-scale builds in Asia, by early next year.

UK’s renewable energy outlook

Despite the promising outlook, the UK itself is experiencing negative growth in the energy market due to its vague energy policy. Wind energy should be at 20% of UK power by 2020, and though the current UK energy policy isn’t generating a significant number of commissioned projects, there is a huge market for contractors elsewhere in Europe, with opportunities to be part of significant offshore wind projects in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Denmark.

Investors are waiting to see whether the UK’s future energy policy will support the renewable industry, and the UK has recently commenced its annual renewable energy auction Contracts for Difference, which allocates £730 million of funding to certain projects. In addition, the biomass and waste-to-energy movements are slowly gaining traction worldwide, with multi-million pound projects being put online in Europe and America. Touted as the carbon-neutral answer to oil and gas, as well as an easy way to solve the problem of ever-decreasing land available for landfill, leaps in technology is making biomass and waste-to-energy more and more popular amongst heavyweight investors. Expect demand for jobs here to soar, with everybody from Commissioning Managers to Boiler Managers who have an expert knowledge of steam becoming increasingly sought after.

Is the best yet to come?

As the renewable energy industry develops, so too does the market. With technology advancing faster, and renewables becoming cheaper, than ever before, people and companies alike are seeing renewable energy as a viable, carbon-neutral source of power that can be put to use for everything from off-shore windfarms to small-scale solar panels for local communities. With countries like China and India investing in large-scale projects that are set to boost renewable energy’s prominence throughout the world, expect demand for fascinating new projects and jobs to soar- and Quanta to be right there with it. For more information on the work we do in renewable energy recruitment, click here or take a look at our latest vacancies here.