The renewable energy market is extremely buoyant. And there are plenty of courses you can plug into.
It’s an exciting time to be working in clean energy: tidal power is on the horizon and work to harness the power of waves continues apace. While the majority of jobs sit within wind and solar power, UK scientists are keen to establish the country as a world leader in energy storage and clean technologies. Renewable energy now meets a quarter of the UK’s energy needs.
Jobs in renewable energy have grown almost three times faster than the national average employment growth, according to the Renewable Energy Association, with the highest growth in the onshore or offshore wind sector.
Nearly 30 UK universities offer postgraduate qualifications in clean energy, and the industry is desperate to plug an acute engineering skills gap.
One of the more specialised programmes on offer is Plymouth University’s master’s in marine renewable energy – a course that links up with Cornwall’s £42m wave hub project – the world’s largest wave energy test site. Postgraduates focus on emerging technologies and work with marine researchers.
If the proposed tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea Bay goes ahead – and proves to be a success – there could be a surge in demand for similar projects around the UK. This would mean an increase in jobs for specialist engineers, project managers and developers.
Tidal energy is included in many generic courses, such as the University of Warwick’s master’s in sustainable energy technologies, which also looks at wind, solar, biomass and fuel cells. Kingston University London’s renewable energy engineering master’s has a business slant and includes modules in software modelling.
The University of Manchester’s MSc in renewable energy and clean technology has the issue of carbon emissions at its core. The university has strong links with leading industry providers such as Shell, National Grid and EDF Energy.
Students on the master’s in sustainable energy futures at Imperial College London are mostly drawn from the fields of engineering and physical sciences. The course has workshops on creative thinking and public speaking.
These courses can lead to doctoral research or employment in the energy sector, as well as with niche renewable companies; there are 6,500 companies in the field. David Hunt, managing partner at specialist recruiters Hyperion Executive, says energy storage is “one of the most exciting areas of growth”.
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