The concern over global warming and the need for more sustainable energy solutions have been hot topics of debate for many years, and it seems that in the present day, something is being done about it. With an increasing number of U.S. cities pledging to go 100% renewables by a specified time frame (including Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and D.C.), clean energy is sweeping up across America. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy will have the fastest growth in the electricity sector, providing almost 30% of power demand in 2023, up from 24% in 2017. During this period, renewables are forecast to meet more than 70% of global electricity generation growth, led by solar PV and followed by wind, hydropower, and bioenergy.
Wind turbines and solar panels may have been novelties 10 years ago, but today, they are a part of America’s every day energy landscape. Almost every day there are technological or scientific developments that improve our ability to produce renewable energy, use energy more efficiently, and leverage the same technologies to meet a wider range of needs (i.e. solar vehicles, thermal heating, and cooling, etc.). This is happening not only in the United States, but across the globe. In 2017, global clean energy investment totaled $333.5 billion, the second-highest amount ever recorded. This is almost five times the $70.9 billion invested in clean energy in 2006. (BNEF).
Given the growth of the renewable energy industry, clean energy and sustainability jobs are booming right now. A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report on jobs and the economy found that 6.4 million Americans work in the energy sector, with 300,000 jobs added last year. A significant percentage of these new jobs are in renewable energy and efficiency. We took a little deeper dive into this growth and found that:
- The wind industry added 25,000 new jobs last year. The U.S. wind industry now has approximately 102,000 workers, and holds one of the fastest growing jobs in clean energy – wind turbine technician. But a wind turbine technician isn’t just one of the fastest growing jobs in clean energy, it’s the single fastest growing occupation in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the sector will grow 108% by 2024.
- The solar industry saw a 25% increase over 2015 and added over 73,000 jobs in 2016. It’s estimated that one out of every 50 new jobs created nationally came from solar.
- Alternative fuel vehicles employ about 259,000 Americans today.
- Energy efficiency jobs are also on the rise, with nearly 1.4 of them being in the construction industry. Construction firms have seen a marked increase in the percentage of their workforce that spends at least half their time on work related to improving energy efficiency, going up from roughly 65% in 2015 to 74% in 2016.
Renewable energy appears to be creating a new American workforce. In addition to the increased demand for clean energy and efficient technology, what’s driving clean energy job growth? Dropping technology costs and supportive policies and investments.
In this changing economy and the modern world, you may find yourself contemplating a career change – one that will help contribute to a more sustainable future. If you’re passionate about green energy and protecting our planet, this might be an avenue that you want to explore. Even if you’re not looking to dive into this industry, but maybe your kids are? Or you’re just curious to learn more? Whatever your goal is, we want to help you achieve it! Below some of the top the sectors where you may want to look if you’re seeking high demand opportunities in the field (not in any particular order):
1. Wind Farm Development
- This field is growing quickly, and because it requires different people (who are all equally important) to develop a wind farm, there are a lot of diverse opportunities. These include turbine manufacturing, construction, and maintenance to project developers, specialists, managers, engineers, and analyst
2. Solar Installers
- A solar installer helps set up and maintain the panels that are increasingly appearing on rooftops.
3. Energy Efficiency Jobs
- These types of jobs make up most of the U.S. clean energy workforce – at least 2.2 million workers.
- They cover a range of work across industries – mostly construction jobs installing energy-efficient equipment.
- Retrofits, appliance swaps, and lighting upgrades are among the range of needs the U.S. energy efficiency industry is meeting, creating clean energy jobs along the way.
4. Sustainable Vehicles and Transportation
- These roles range in workers who develop and make electric vehicles, including electrical and mechanical engineers, as well as assembly line workers.
5. Sustainable Architecture and Design
- There are plenty career choices in green design: architects, landscapers, and urban planners are all part of a growing professional force that seeks to create the spaces where we can all live and work more with a smaller footprint.
These are just some of the many possibilities of jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. Given the diversity of the industry and the skillset required for different functionalities, you may be wondering which degrees can provide pathways to a career in the industry. Here are a few that could help get your foot in the door:
- Bachelor’s of Biology – Biochemistry specifically prepares students by studying life on the molecular and chemical level, getting them for the renewable energy world.
- Bachelor’s of Chemistry – Perhaps with specialties in biochemistry (as mentioned above, this is an ideal area of focus for students looking to get into the field, chemical engineering, or bioinformatics).
- MBA in Sustainability – This degree is perfect for someone who is looking to work on the business side of the industry. Not only will it prepare you to work in this sector, but it will prepare you to work in this sector using the most environmentally friendly practices.
Renewable energy jobs, sustainability jobs, and energy efficiency jobs are all are abundant. If you’re a green enthusiast, or you have a high-schooler who is contemplating their future, these are all great field to pursue. Not only is the industry improving each day, but because your work helps contribute to a brighter future for our planet, your every day will be rewarding and satisfying.
Contributing to a sustainable future comes in many different shapes, and doesn’t necessarily have to require a career change or pursuing a career in renewable energy or sustainability. There are many changes you can make in your daily life to reduce your footprint and help preserve our planet, including signing up for Kiwi Energy’s environmentally-focused energy and natural gas products.
At Kiwi Energy, we reward both our customers for making the right choices for the planet, and the planet itself. Our customers receive a complimentary membership the Ecogold loyalty program, which allows them to redeem rewards in the form of energy-efficiency products or gift cards from participating partners. We reward the planet by supporting non-profit organizations running environmentally friendly projects through the Ecogold Environmental Fund. For every new customer acquired by Kiwi Energy, a portion of the proceeds is donated to the fund.