What are the Different Renewable Energy Jobs?

Brenda Scott
Brenda Scott
A large field of rapeseed, which is used to make biodiesel.
A large field of rapeseed, which is used to make biodiesel.

Due to concerns about replacing limited resources such as oil, coal, and natural gas, development of renewable energy sources has gained momentum worldwide. Renewable energy is any energy which comes from something that either occurs naturally, or can be replenished quickly. This would include energy derived from wind, the sun, water, oceanic tides, geothermal heat, biomass, water and trees or other vegetation. This is a growing field, and renewable energy jobs are available in most of these avenues.

A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.
A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.

Some renewable energy jobs require special training. Solar energy companies need solar technicians and photovoltaic engineers, as well as civil, electrical and design engineers. Wind power is another internationally growing energy field, with Germany leading the way, followed by Denmark, the US, Australia, Japan, Canada, China, India, New Zealand and South Africa. This type of power development requires both electrical and aerodynamic design engineers.

A closeup of a solar panel.
A closeup of a solar panel.

The production of biofuels has opened additional opportunities for renewable energy jobs. Biofuels are gases and liquids created from biomass, such as plants, and animal and municipal waste. While research is being conducting using a variety of biomass sources, the two primary types of biofuels currently in production are biodiesel and ethanol.

Biodiesel is created by breaking down fats and oils through a process called transesterfication. While biodiesel can be mixed with petroleum to create a blended product, it can be also used in its pure form in any diesel engine. Germany, which uses rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, produces over one-half of the world’s biodiesel supply. The US primarily uses soybeans to make biodiesel, while Malaysia and Indonesia use palm oil. At present, over twenty countries are involved in biodiesel production.

A ship going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, a source of renewable energy.
A ship going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, a source of renewable energy.

Another emerging biofuel source is municipal waste. Japan has been a leader in this area, and has successfully converted a great deal of its waste to usable energy, with the added benefit of reducing the need for waste disposal sites. As more countries confront the growing need for additional waste disposal, the conversion of municipal waste has taken on additional significance. All of these biofuel options offer renewable energy jobs for a variety of engineers, chemists, and lab technicians.

Biodiesel may present a greener alternative to traditional fuels.
Biodiesel may present a greener alternative to traditional fuels.

Renewable energy jobs can also be found in more traditional fields, such as water-powered electrical plants, dams, and atomic and nuclear energy facilities. Electric plants recruit civil, mechanical and electrical engineers as well as control room operators. Nuclear energy facilities need specialists such as nuclear engineers, physicists, mathematicians, design and process engineers, and HVAC and electrical technicians.

Turbine engineers are among the specialists who keep hydroelectric power stations like the Hoover Dam operating.
Turbine engineers are among the specialists who keep hydroelectric power stations like the Hoover Dam operating.

Many renewable energy jobs do require specialized training in engineering, physics, or science. Others require tradesmen licensed in HVAC, plumbing and electricity. A lack of one of these specialties should not stop a person from seeking a job in this field. Companies who produce energy also need employees to do marketing, accounting, computer support, customer service, contract management and all of the traditional job roles required in other corporations.

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    • A large field of rapeseed, which is used to make biodiesel.
      A large field of rapeseed, which is used to make biodiesel.
    • A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.
      A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.
    • A closeup of a solar panel.
      A closeup of a solar panel.
    • A ship going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, a source of renewable energy.
      A ship going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, a source of renewable energy.
    • Biodiesel may present a greener alternative to traditional fuels.
      Biodiesel may present a greener alternative to traditional fuels.
    • Turbine engineers are among the specialists who keep hydroelectric power stations like the Hoover Dam operating.
      Turbine engineers are among the specialists who keep hydroelectric power stations like the Hoover Dam operating.