Emboldened by recent innovations, the renewables sector is booming – and on the lookout for Stem graduates
The renewables sector takes in many skillsets. Photograph: Getty Images
From Elon Musk agreeing to build the world’s biggest lithium ion battery to Volvo’s announcement that all their new cars will be hybrid or electric from 2019, clean tech is moving out of the fringes and into the mainstream. In 2015/16, the renewables sector provided about 126,000 jobs.
“This is a great sector to specialise in now, as storage and electric vehicles (EVs) become more popular,” says Daniel Brown, external affairs officer at the Renewable Energy Association (REA). “The energy storage and electric vehicle sectors employed an additional 16,000 people in 2015/16. These are set to grow significantly, as EVs become increasingly popular.”
Skills are vital in this sector – but so is passion. “Being a clean technology business with a clear focus on sustainable transport, it’s important that our recruits not only have the technical ability, but also have a genuine interest in sustainability; it just doesn’t work otherwise,” says Fiona Clancy, director of hydrogen-cell car manufacturer Riversimple.
It’s a sector that takes in many skillsets, says Brown: electricians and engineers for the solar industry, chemists and data analysts for energy storage, and physicists for bioenergy. That means many degrees could be relevant. Libby Moxon, for example, is about to start the fourth year of her MSci course in physics and astronomy at the University of Birmingham.
She recently completed a nine-week summer placement at Tokamak Energy, a company that is aiming to find new, clean energy sources using the power of nuclear fusion.
“We are very aware of the energy crisis we are now facing and the fact that we do need to be looking for alternative forms of energy,” she says. “Whereas fission is an effective form of energy, but produces a lot of long-term radioactive waste, fusion is much less damaging to the environment. It’s exciting to know that you are working towards something that is helping the world to be a better place.”