Careers In The TRADES: Energy Sector Opportunities

Solar Panel Installation.
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CHARLOTTE – The energy sector has many career opportunities available to those who are interested in the trades and are technically and mechanically inclined. There are a growing number of renewable energy job openings, especially in solar and wind turbines, and the fossil fuel, coal, and natural gas job market also remains very viable.  The world and our economy relies on petroleum as a  primary energy source for many products, transportation, fuel oils for heating and electricity generation, asphalt and road oil, feedstocks for making chemicals in plastics and synthetic materials that are in nearly everything we use. In fact, there are over 6000 products made from petroleum and growing annually.

Wind turbine on open space.
Wind turbine on open space.

Currently, 85% of our energy is produced from fossil fuels. By 2040, many predict that it will be only 65% of all energy production, but it’s not going away anytime soon. These jobs are high paying ranging from $80K to $150K or more. Beyond 2040, 60% of all energy production is still expected to be provided by fossil fuels, which includes clean coal production, petroleum, and natural gas.

Renewable energy jobs in solar and wind turbines are expected to grow annually over the next 20 years. Goldman Sachs has predicted that 25% of all energy spending will target clean energy in 2021-2022, and the annual investment in renewable infrastructure will total $16 trillion by 2030.

These clean energy workers will be employed by solar, wind, and geothermal companies, or the manufacturers of LED lighting and energy efficient appliances. These jobs are in bio-fuel and hydropower, decarbonization, and bioenergy. Many of the jobs will include some of the career opportunities previously mentioned in this feature since we began to explore careers in the trades last year. These include electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, roofers, mechanical trade technicians, construction workers, service technicians, mechanics, and more. Certainly installation, maintenance, and repair career job opportunities will be available to those who are qualified and possess the necessary skills.

Fossil fuel pipelines.
Fossil fuel pipelines.

Therefore, employment in the renewable energy field is growing and future growth is inevitable over the next two decades or more. It’s the future in many ways for those who have the skills in the career trades mentioned in the above paragraph. The industry is booming like no other around the globe, with more than 24 million new jobs expected in the next decade.

Also, those who have experience in grid and storage technologies have good opportunities because the grid is the system through which energy flows to bring power of any form to homes, businesses, and multiple industries, including cities, municipalities, and communities. Storage is the process of converting energy into a form that can later be converted back into energy when it’s needed. The most common example would be batteries, something we are all familiar with in our daily lives.

The primary forms of storage are hydroelectric storage, compressed air energy storage, advanced battery storage, flywheel energy storage, thermal energy storage, and hydrogen energy storage. The storage industry is an emerging field with new technologies being developed on a regular basis. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a minimum of 16 large-scale storage projects, with a focus on long-term and seasonal storage of hydrogen, compressed air, and hydropower.

More than half the jobs in grid and storage are in clean energy storage, with other career opportunities in the grid modernization and smart grid development for future use. There will also be jobs in management, engineering, project development, energy analysis, sales, sales management, marketing, and other related fields.

Another viable energy source is nuclear power, which we did not explore in depth as many of the career opportunities require a different skill set, as well as specialized academic training, including specific government policies and regulations that do not fit well into our topic of careers in the trades. However, if interested, an individual can conduct their own research into career opportunities including training requirements.

Overall, the energy sector is booming. Renewable energy careers are on the rise, jobs will be plentiful and in demand, and a cleaner more efficient petroleum industry will continue to remain a viable source of energy for the remainder of this century. It appears inevitable that a combination of these important energy sectors will fuel our economic prosperity and growth for many decades to come.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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