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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 36, 03-09 December 2022

Renewable Energy

Careers that Help the Planet

 

Nidhhi Praasad

 

Renewable power is booming, as innovation brings down costs and starts to deliver on the promise of a clean energy future. Choose a green career to create a better world! Renewable energy is good for the planet and for people, but what is it exactly?

WHAT IS RENEWABLE ENERGY?

Renewable energy is often referred to as clean energy. Renewable energy also termed alternative energy, simply means the energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power. It is generated from natural resources-such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat.This energy cannot be exhausted and is constantly renewed. And, what is even more important, they cause little climate or environmental damage.Renewable energy is clean, affordable, and reliable, and has got the potential to counter poverty and climate change. Fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas on the contrary are available in finite quantities only. As we keep extracting them, they will run out sooner or later. Although they are produced in natural processes, they do not replenish as quickly as we humans use them. India is nature's favoured region with an abundance of energy produced by sun, wind, water, and biomass. New and renewable energy is the only solution to fight the hazardous effects of technology. Since 2011, renewable energy is growing faster than all other energy forms. The number of jobs in renewable energy worldwide increased in 2020, despite the huge economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an annual report on clean energy employment, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) said there were 12 million jobs in renewable energy and its supply chains last year, a third of them in solar power. That was a rise from 11.5 million jobs in 2019.

 

WHY RENEWABLE ENERGY IS IMPORTANT?

Key benefits of renewable energy for people and the planet, Like any human activity, all energy sources have an impact on our environment. However, the advantages over the devastating impacts of fossil fuels are undeniable: from the reduction of water and land use, less air and water pollution, less wildlife and habitat loss, to no or lower greenhouse gas emissions.

1.      Renewable energy emits no or low greenhouse gases. That's good for the climate. The combustion of fossil fuels for energy results in a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Most sources of renewable energy result in little to no emissions, even when considering the full life cycle of the technologies.

2.      Renewable energy emits no or low air pollutants. That's better for our health. Worldwide increase in fossil fuelbased road transport, industrial activity, and power generation (as well as the open burning of waste in many cities) contribute to elevated levels of air pollution. In many developing countries, the use of charcoal and fuelwood for heating and cooking also contributes to poor indoor air quality. Particles and other air pollutants from fossil fuels literally asphyxiate cities. According to studies by the World Health Organisation, their presence above urban skies is responsible for millions of premature deaths and costs billions.

3.      Renewable energy comes with low costs. That's good for keeping energy prices at affordable levels

4.      Renewable energy creates jobs.

COURSES AND ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

Sustainable energy technologies and the need to reduce carbon emissions are at the top of the global environmental agenda. A master's degree in renewable energy will equip students with the expertise needed to address the challenges faced by a growing demand for energy. You'll gain expertise in clean energy sources, practical power systems, renewable energy technology, climate change, and energy management systems.

 

The most popular courses for Renewable Energy in India are:

1.      B.Sc. Renewable Energy is a 3-year long undergraduate program that is further divided into 6 semesters. The main objective of the program is to provide students with brief knowledge about the usage and implementation of renewable sources to encounter the rapid demand of the generation. Entrance exams are conducted for admission to this course by the various colleges. The program gives us knowledge about the resources that do not exhaust human lifetimes like Hydro Energy, Biomass, Geothermal Energy, and many more. For B.Sc in renewable energy, a candidate must have passed 10+2 examinations in the science stream from a recognised board or its equivalent.

2.      B.Tech Renewable and Sustainable Energy Engineering. For admission to a 4-year B. Tech course in Renewable Energy, students with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics as compulsory subjects at the 10+2 level and with 60 percent marks can apply. Candidates having a Bachelor's Degree in the disciplines of EE/ ECE/ EEE/ Mechanical/ Chemical/ Instrumentation & Control Engineering/ Mechatronics/ Production/ Aerospace/ Renewable Energy with a valid GATE score are eligible for admission. Candidates, who have an M.Sc. degree in subjects like Physics / Chemistry / Material Science with a minimum of 55% marks are also eligible for admission to take this course.

3.      B. Tech + M. Tech (Dual Degree) in Renewable Energy is a five-year course where students have to study all the essential subjects of either course. This course is a technology-based and research-oriented program where students learn the advanced areas of their respective fields and help the students to become industryready. This degree course follows a semester-based pattern where each year consists of two semesters.

4.      Master of Technology (M.Tech.) in Renewable Energy is a 2- year-long program. This course also follows the semester-based pattern where each academic year has two semesters. In this course, students have to study a lot in detail to get in-depth knowledge of the following subjects in this curriculum. However, the research area is less as compared to the dual degree program, and the advanced technologyoriented area is more.

 

Apart from the criteria, many institutes prefer students with some professional experience. Solar power, wind energy, hydroelectricity, biomass plants, and futuristic fusion energy reactors are considered alternative ways to sustain economic development, leading to demand for professionals in the domain. Amity University Haryana has taken the initiative to offer two Post Graduate programs in Solar and Alternate energy for engineering and sciences students with the objective to produce energy professionals, who are sensitive to, and well aware of, the energy issues and concerns, and who can apply their specialized knowledge for the sustainable energy management.

 

Entrance Exam for Renewable Energy: The eligible candidates must take the entrance test and qualify for the respective entrance exam to get admission to the institutes of their choice.

 

For Undergraduate (UG) courses: JEE Main (Joint Entrance Examination) Just Like other engineering courses, students from all over India can get admission to various institutes for the Renewable Energy course through JEE Main ranking. There are not many colleges to choose from for Renewable Energy during the UG course. However, only a few institutes like Integral University, Lucknow (Dual Degree in B.Tech and M.Tech), and Ansal University, Gurgaon (B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering with specialization in Renewable energy) takes students in the UG courses through JEE Main exam.

 

For Post Graduate Course: GATE- (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) is an allIndia examination conducted by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and all seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Through this entrance exam, students can get admission to different institutes all over India in several postgraduate courses (M. Tech, and ME), including Renewable Energy. However, a few colleges also take candidates in the respective course by conducting their entrance examinations. Several initiatives are taken by the Government towards Renewable Energy. The government of India is taking various measures to utilise natural sources of energy and has plans to add 500 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy to its electricity grid by 2030 in a bid to clean up the air in its cities and lessen the rapidly growing economy's dependence on coal. India has an ambitious target of installing 175GW by 2022 out of which 100GW is through solar power. India is the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. To cut emissions and clean air, it now pledges to increase 40 percent of its installed capacity by 2030 which is a sharp increase from 21.4 percent at present. It will be a small step to satiate the energy appetite of its ever-growing population. National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), along with the Green Jobs sector skills council is taking some wonderful initiatives to create awareness and enter into the arena of research and development in Renewable Energy. A big focus is on training for clean energy jobs. More than 100,000 people have been trained between 2015 and 2021. 78,000 trainees have been certified under the national-level solar energy Suryamitra training program. The Skills Council for Green Jobs continues to integrate environmental awareness into job training across skilling programs through "Green National Occupation Standards" for the workplace.

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN RENEWABLE ENERGY : To meet the target set by the Government of India for renewable energy, there is a huge demand for equipment manufacturing in the renewable energy sector which leads to a requirement for a large number of skilled manpower. Manpower requirement is not limited to only the manufacturing sector but it is needed in every area including Installation, System Designing, Operations & Maintenance, Financing, and Marketing. Job opportunities in renewable energy sources including solar energy, wind solar, and offshore wind are opening up all the time. It's not only an appealing career path for recent graduates but also for those who are currently working in other energy sectors such as oil and gas too. The reason that there are so many new jobs being created in renewables is simply that there's more budget being put into developments in sustainable energy. Governments are investing more in renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, with some even offering a tax reduction for those who invest in renewable resources such as solar panels. Globally, the attitude towards the energy sector is changing, and renewables is leading the way. Working in the energy sector will, on the whole, provide you with a good salary and job security. There's an array of opportunities for individuals to work their way up the career ladder to project manager or other senior roles. Perhaps more importantly, though, lucrative job opportunities are available across a variety of specialisms, not only engineering or niche renewables roles but Job opportunities can be found in production, IT, finance, law, and research to name just a few. There is truly something for everyone in the energy sector. The career prospects are very bright for India. India has been facing rising fuel prices, energy insecurity, and other environmental & climate-related problems. Renewable energy offers a critical solution to India's burgeoning energy demand challenges. Moreover, renewable energy technologies are more labour-intensive than more mechanised fossil fuel technologies, as demonstrated in more mature markets, and can provide a tremendous opportunity to create local jobs. In 2015, more than 8.1 million people got employed in renewable energy worldwide. One of the main reasons why you should choose a career in renewable energy is that it's personally rewarding. You will be involved in projects that will be changing the world as we know it. Renewable energy sources such as solar energy and offshore wind will play a critical role in the future of the world's energy production. You can contribute to the production of new, clean, energy sources that reduce emissions and climate change. By aiding in the development and distribution of renewable energies, you will actively be a part of a global movement. There are lots of things to learn in this course, such as energy infrastructure, rational use of energy, energy conservation, and management, energy policies, energy regulations, energy-environment interface, and many more.

 

SCOPE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY: According to the latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the number of people employed in the renewable energy sector across the globe could rise to 24 million by 2030. According to forecasts, global investment will reach USD 1.5 trillion per year in 2030. The report also stated that renewables will add about $20 trillion to the global economy, and will create about 6 million jobs by 2050. According to World Economic Forum, the Advanced Energy vertical is a $1.5 trillion global industry, almost twice the size of the global airline industry, and nearly equal to worldwide apparel revenue. The majority of renewable energy jobs are available in India, Japan, Brazil, the U.S., and Germany. In fact, 62% of all renewable energy jobs are based in Asia, as installation and manufacturing continue to shift to the region. Among the clean energy sectors, solar photovoltaic (PV) was the largest employer in 2019, employing 3.1 million people - a 12% increase compared to 2017. Liquid biofuels (1.7 million jobs), solid biomass (0.7 million), and biogas (0.3 million) were also major employers, as reported by IRENA.

 

Upcoming Trends: The scope of Renewable Energy in India as well as abroad is pretty broad. There is an ongoing trend to use more and more Renewable Energy and to give more importance to it all over the world. Therefore, more field works along with research works are being undertaken in this field opening a number of opportunities for an aspirant to explore different fields. Thus, the scope of renewable energy is ample. Candidates after qualifying for their respective renewable energy courses get placed in several organisations (both government and private), and they will be able to find excellent job opportunities along with good packages. Students might opt for research as there is an option to follow this path too. However, there are jobs available in colleges and universities (both government and private) as professors or lecturers. Therefore, the career prospects of the qualified candidate are brighter. The energy sector is constantly changing and evolving so we can expect to not only see more demand for work, but also new types of roles created in the future. So, if you're looking for a career that is exciting and encourages innovation - where no day is the same - then renewables is certainly an option worth exploring. Renewable energy projects require a workforce with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. There are job opportunities for ecologists, biologists, physicists, geologists, architectural and structural engineers, planners, project managers, computer science or electrical engineers, communications professionals, business developers, and even helicopter pilots. Initially, the energy companies were overwhelmingly full of engineers and scientists. But over the last decade, the balance has become tilted towards graduates with commercial skills as well. For example, for a wind energy project, apart from wind energy professionals (and those from the core renewable energy science and engineering), you need meteorologists in order to find good, windy locations. The team also needs to have biologists and ecologists considering the effects of the wind farm on birds and other animals in the environment. Sometimes, you might also need an archaeologist. Then there will be architects to design buildings that can generate their own wind power.

There are lots of new trends coming in as there are thousands of researchers working in this field. Here are a few new trends:

1.      Storage of renewable energy: As no renewable sources are found and more power is generated every day, storage of power is necessary to utilise the remaining power for the future.

2.      Concept of a microgrid: It is quite new that renewable energy is generated, transmitted, and distributed in microgrids. As there is less amount of complexity, therefore less maintenance trouble.

3.      Lesser cost: Types of equipment used for this purpose are less costly. As a result, the cost per unit of energy is going down with the increase in renewable energy

4.      Introduction of AI and IoT: with the application of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, handling every single thing in a plant is becoming easier. As a result, the efficiency of power generation is pretty high.

5.      Data Science & Big Data Analytics in the Renewable Energy Sector: As with many industries, data science, machine learning, and big data analytics are also transforming the energy sector by providing insights to reduce costs and allowing oil producers to adjust to market demands in boom times. The solar industry is rapidly embracing ways to analyze and crunch data in order to lower the cost of solar energy and open up new markets for its technology. In the coming days, Big Data & Analytics will be very crucial for the renewable energy market.

Top Recruiters in Renewable Energy Sector

·         National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC)

·         National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)

·         Power Grid Corporation Limited (PGCL)

·         SELCO India

·         Adani Power

·         Reliance Power

·         Tata Power Solar

·         Hindustan Power

·         JSW Energy

·         Green Infra

·         Gram Power

Educational institutions can play a vital role in educating the masses directly by introducing courses in the area of renewable energy within the curriculum and also by conducting skill-based training, roadshows, workshops, conference, exhibitions, etc. It is our collective and individual responsibility to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live", quoted Dalai Lama, this statement showcases a need for us to take up the task of preserving the world around us.

The author is a Counselling Psychologist & Career Consultant, she can be reached at nidhiprasadcs@gmail.com Views expressed are personal.