TC Global Insights

Global Employability

A Look at Careers in Solar Energy

One of our biggest assets is the Sun. And we could do a lot more to put its energy to better use. Fossil fuel will run out, the Sun’s energy wont (it will, in about 5 billion years, so not quite the time to worry yet) .

Countries, world over, are increasingly turning to Solar power – a total of 161 countries now have renewable energy policies in place, and 172 have renewable energy targets (Renewables 2020 Global Status Report, REN21). Solar energy (and wind energy) have become mainstream electricity sources, as they are proving to be cost efficient as well as better for the environment (as compared to fossil fuel power plants).

Question to then ask is - is Solar Energy a growing field?

It absolutely is.

According to the IAE Outlook for 2020 and 2021, Solar PV and wind accounted for 86% of global renewable capacity in 2019. Significant growth is anticipated in the renewable energy sector in the year ahead. The increasing growth has been attributed to mainly two factors, i.e.

  1. Declining costs of renewable energy sources and its rising capacity,
  2. increased competitiveness of battery storage

As per the REN 21’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, Wind power and Solar power saw the maximum investment from 2009 – 2019 where each accounted for roughly 47% of the total.

Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, 2009–2019 (REN21)

Furthermore, among the renewable energy investment, R&D investment in solar power was recorded as the largest recipient of such investment, i.e. a tally of USD 6.7 billion. This does reflect on the growing importance Solar energy has garnered.

The report further shows renewable power capacity country wise where BRICs as well as India particularly reflects great capacity to implement solar energy. As solar energy systems become more cost-effective, the use of it has increased in commercial as well as residential systems.


Renewable Power Capacity, World and Top Regions/Countries (REN21)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted in 2014 that the sun could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050. This prediction could, perhaps, see the daylight if countries continue to give as much importance to solar energy (renewable energy) as it is doing so at this time.

The above brings us to this question.

What are the opportunities in Solar Energy

Solar Energy is required for residential, commercial and industrial use. Talking about job prospects and opportunities,  there are four major categories, i.e.

  • Manufacturing
  • System Design
  • Project Development
  • Installation/operations

A work experience or background in the following will be of great use if you are to get into this area:

  • Solar training or solar industry experience
  • Electrical work
  • Technical and Manufacturing background

To better understand the opportunities in the Solar Energy space, here are the categories based on entry level, mid-level and advanced level.

Entry level
  • Computer Numerical Operator
  • Advanced Manufacturing technician
  • Solar Site Accessor
  • Solar Assembler/ Basic Installer
Mid-level
  • Instrumentation and Electronics Technician
  • Quality Assurance Specialist
  • Process Control Technician
  • Utility Interconnection Engineer
  • Engineering Technician
  • Energy Consultant
  • Residential PV System Designer
  • IT Specialist
  • Solar Marketing Specialist
  • Solar Sales Representative
  • Code Official with Solar Expertise
  • Electrical Inspector with Solar Expertise
  • Solar Project Manager
  • Solar Service Technician
  • Plumber with Solar expertise
  • Solar Crew Chief
Advanced level
  • Solar Fleet Manager
  • Solar Installation Contractor
  • Solar Instructor
  • Solar Project Developer
  • Lawyer with Solar Expertise
  • Solar Utility Procurement Specialist
  • Solar Energy Systems Designer
  • Software Engineer
  • Power Systems Engineer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Materials Scientist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
How Can One Get into this Field?

Solar Energy jobs typically require an educational background in:

  • Science and/or Engineering (Mechanical, Civil, Industrial, Electrical, R&D, Computer/software)
  • Business (Logistics, Supply chain, Management, Marketing, Sales, etc)

Aside these, there are more specific programs in energy engineering, which are offered at most universities at a Master’s level as well at a M.Phil level. Here’s a look at few of the globally ranked universities offering a course in Energy Engineering at different levels of study.

UniversityCourse nameLevel of Study
University of CambridgeEnergy TechnologiesUndergraduate,
MPhil
University of California, BerkeleyEnergy EngineeringUndergraduate
ETH ZurichEnergy Science and TechnologyGraduate
Stanford UniversityEnergy Resources EngineeringUndergraduate
Graduate
University of OxfordEnergy SystemsGraduate
Imperial College London
  • Sustainable Energy Futures
  • Energy and environmental engineering
Graduate
MPhil/Research
EPFLEnergy science and technologyGraduate
National University of SingaporeEnergyMPhil/ Research
Delft University of TechnologySustainable Energy TechnologyGraduate
Carnegie Mellon UniversityEnergy Science, Technology & PolicyGraduate
Technical University of MunichEnergy and Process EngineeringGraduate
UNSW
  • Renewable Energy Engineering
  • Renewable Energy
Undergraduate
Graduate

Renewable energy itself is a wide field and thus allows you the liberty to explore other course options not confined to solar energy alone. The list, though, should give you a good head-start.

Solar Energy Post Covid-19 World

The global economy was shaken by Covid-19 and renewable energy sector was no exemption. The initial global lockdown did cause a stir due to workforce crunch which became one of the biggest stumbles in fields related to renewable energy systems/resources. India alone faced delays for 3,000 MW of solar and wind energy projects due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

However, as businesses reopen across the globe, solar energy is all set to be back on track. The projection made by IEA (Global impact review 2020) that renewable will be the only energy source to grow in 2020 (compared to 2019) will stand true.

The future is bright in the Solar Energy area (pun intended). This would be a good time for you to cosider getting into this field.

Date added
28.10.2020

Filed under:

Global Employability

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