Why we’re seeing a rise in green energy jobs and what it means for the future
Tapping into clean energy is no longer a philanthropist’s pipe dream. It is here and now and very attainable. More people are becoming increasingly mindful and making responsible choices. The green energy market has responded and is blooming, creating new and exciting career opportunities.
An overview of the green energy market
Renewable energy production from resources such as solar and wind increased at its fastest rate in 2020. According to a report published by the National Public Radio (NPR), in 2020 green energy production increased by 45%.
The UK government has auctioned record levels of renewable energy, with companies signing record purchase agreements - a fantastic result in spite of the pandemic.
Efforts by global leaders to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 have seen a significant shift which has filtered down to wind, solar, geothermal, and other green industries. Policy changes and investment in clean energy will ensure climate goals are met.
Renewable energy updates
Whether it is wind, solar, hydro, bioenergy or geothermal power, urgent expansion in the clean electricity industry is critically needed if the target for net-zero carbon emissions is to be met.
The NPR explains that wind power is one of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy. Onshore infrastructure and output capacity doubled in 2019 and 2020. Offshore technology represents a significant opportunity to provide overly populated coastal towns with green energy.
As for solar energy, installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) structures are breaking records year on year. Solar PV is the largest clean energy provider of all green energies. Technological advances and lower costs ensure rapid expansion of PV systems. Annual additions are set to reach over 160 gigawatts by 2022.
Global biofuel production dipped slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic, but it is expected to surpass 2019 levels by 2022. Meanwhile, biodiesel and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) production will increase globally and is expected to double as production from waste and residue feedstocks expand exponentially.
The NPR reports that in China - the global leader of renewable energy use and supply - growth is due to slow in 2021 and 2022. However, the global expansion will continue with strong growth in Europe, the US, India, and Latin America as governments provide more support. Predictions by the International Energy Agency show that post-pandemic growth will be even faster, particularly in Europe and the United States.
In the US, federal tax credits are driving renewed growth of renewable energy capacity. Additionally, the US administration is committed to new emissions reduction targets that will deploy renewables at an accelerated rate after 2022. Not only will this help to create more opportunities for major projects like the Alta Wind Energy Center in California, which has a capacity of 1,548 MW, it will enable more projects to make headway. New projects such as Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind and Ocean Wind in New Jersey are taking the states by storm, helping the nation cement its standing as a global frontrunner on the wind energy scene. Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind is due to be complete in 2026 and has a total capacity of 2,640 MW. The project marks a partnership between Dominion Energy and Ørsted and has ignited rumours that 1,100 wind energy jobs will be created once the farm is fully functional.
As for India - the fourth-largest wind energy producer and employer in the renewable energy sector - their industry politics slowed growth in 2020. Record rebound growth is predicted for 2022 as delayed projects are recommissioned.
Global statistics in this growing job market
The latest statistics from the NPR reveal that 11.5 million people worked in the renewable energy sector globally in 2019, with Asia employing 63% of this number as the largest producer and user of renewable energy. Women held 32% of these jobs. 5.5 million people will join this sector over the next three years.
In a rapidly expanding market, the following are the best sub-sectors for employment.
Onshore and offshore wind
While onshore once dominated wind energy, there is a significant investment in offshore installations in the pipeline, especially along coastlines with dense populations. It is an efficient, clean source of electricity.
The Future of The Wind white paper, published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), states that scaling up wind energy investment is essential for improving growth. IRENA report that by 2030, global cumulative installed capacity for offshore wind power will have increased by nearly tenfold (to 228 GW), with a total offshore capacity exceeding 1000 GW by 2050, demonstrating that global commitment to onshore and offshore wind power increases the need for workforce and job opportunities.
Energy-from-waste is an emerging renewable energy source. Technology converting non-recyclable waste to usable energy makes excellent strides as cities run out of space for landfill sites.
In the UK, recycling rates are levelling off, leaving companies to find alternative ways to create energy-from-waste career opportunities. A new technique called cold plasma pyrolysis produces methane and hydrogen for the industry in addressing the plastic pollution problem.
Environmental and engineering consultants need to keep the momentum going in the energy-from-waste industry by helping governments, local councils, and the public understand this energy resource’s potential.
Let Quanta help you find your next green energy job
Climate change is altering the structure of employment. It’s creating new jobs and challenging existing jobs to bring sustainability to the discussion table.
It’s a conversion that Quanta is proud to be a part of, and we’re here to help you find a job where you can build a greener future. Browse our latest renewable energy jobs and see what roles we can offer you.