Twenty years ago, if you’d have asked most people their opinion about careers in the renewable energy sector, they might have questioned what it was you were talking about.
But now, as we move towards cleaner, greener energy in the UK, the opportunities for careers in the renewable energy sector are becoming more and more available
Employment in the British renewable energy sector reached over 120,000 back in 2019, and has continued to grow ever since. Offshore wind alone currently supports 26,000 direct and indirect jobs across the UK. This is set to rise to over 69,000 jobs by 2026. Most of these jobs are being created in the North East of England, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Anglia and Scotland.
Whether it’s a full-time job working with some of the UK’s leading installers for low carbon and renewable energy technologies, or getting stuck in with your local community’s green projects, there are a number of ways you can get your foot in the door when it comes to the world of renewables.
What skills and experience should you have to work in renewable energy?
The skills and experience required depends entirely on the line of work you choose. But one thing is for certain - a passion for a greener future is a must.
While renewable energy companies draw their staff from a broad range of professions, there’s a serious skills gap in many of the more technical, hands-on roles.
Although not essential in all renewable roles, an educational background in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is definitely a benefit. Not only does this demonstrate the skills for critical thinking, but holds the benefit in being able to understand how the production of renewable energy actually takes place.
What careers/job types are available within renewable energy in the UK?
2022 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy in the UK, with 40% of the UK's electricity being made up of solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.
There’s a huge breadth of job opportunities and career pathways available in renewable energy. From planners and project managers, to communications and business development professionals - the relevant skill sets and backgrounds are hugely varied depending on the sector.
The landscape is hugely diverse, and you could find yourself in a number of different job roles - from office-based work in research, consultancy or planning, to engineering work with solar panels and wind turbines!
Some of the top jobs in the renewables industry in the UK include:
- Renewable Energy Consultant
- Environmental Manager
- Sustainability Engineer
- Solar installer
- Environmental Engineer
Equally, for those wanting to gain some knowledge and skills in the renewable energy sector - volunteering opportunities with community energy groups are aplenty. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the industry, give something back to the community, and even test the waters before heading into a new career.
Gaining skills with your local community energy group
Getting involved and volunteering with your local community energy group is one of the best ways to truly learn about the importance of renewables.
You won’t need any skills to join, but you could be offered the opportunity to lead projects you’re interested in, become a local energy champion and meet new like-minded people
Volunteering at your local community energy group will contribute to gaining the skills and experience you might need to take the next steps towards your career in renewables. Not only will you learn about fundraising, but there will be opportunities to learn skills in:
- Business Planning,
- Social Media
- Financial modelling
- Project Management
And that’s just the beginning. Volunteering at a community energy group could open a number of doors, opportunities or even help you to recognise your preferred direction or skill set.
According to the State of the Sector report for 2022, approximately 30% of community energy organisations employ paid staff - although the majority of these are part-time. Having said that, 183 new full-time positions were created in 2021 alone - more than twice as many as 2020.
Community energy groups were further supported by over 58,000 members, including local community members, investors and shareholders. Perhaps most importantly, approximately 70% of organisations operating in the sector are supported entirely by volunteers.
As the sector continues to grow, there’s a hope that even more full-time positions will be created, to help drive the change that community energy can make to our communities, and our planet.
You can find your local community energy group here and if you’d like to find out more about community energy read our blog on everything you need to know about community energy or our blog on the history of community energy to find out where it all started.
Steps to take to get a career in renewable energy in the UK
There are a number of resources available to those looking to begin a career in the renewable energy sector. For those who are looking at a job in the sector straight from university, Prospects have advice, case studies and relevant jobs in the industry available on their website.
Friends of the Earth have some great resources to learn more about the importance of green energy, and the impact fossil fuels are having on our planet. There’s even a search engine dedicated to jobs in the green energy sector.
It’s important to delve deeper into the green credentials of companies before you move ahead with applying for a role there. By researching into their sustainability targets, checking their renewable credentials and overarching plans for the future, you'll gain a clear view whether they practise what they preach and are taking a renewable future seriously. If it's not clear, the likelihood is you'll make more impact investing your time elsewhere.
Networking will always be one of the most efficient ways to meet people from the industry and learn more about the renewables sector. There are a number of networking opportunities throughout the year - with events and conferences taking place across the country throughout the year.
Community energy forms part of the ongoing plan for a resilient future for renewable energy. We’re proud to help lead the charge in educating people about community energy, how it works, and the undeniable benefits it brings not only to communities and environments, but to the UK as a whole.
The Younity team is always attending events and talks - spreading the message about community energy. Keep up-to-date with us on Twitter and LinkedIn to see where we’re heading, and how you can get involved.
From time-to-time, we hire new talent at Younity - so keep an eye out on our careers page.