Energy

The energy sector is so incredibly vast that it’s hard to know where to start. There are multiple avenues into the industry and equally multiple sub-sections within that, and it’s a sector in which innovation is happening all the time.

1

What is the Energy sector?

Firstly, we all know there are two key strands to the energy sector: renewable and nonrenewable. Both of these strands are incredibly important, as the products developed within these strands help to fuel our homes, transport and lifestyles.

It is a supply and demand industry – and there seems to be ever more demand

The production of energy, refining it and distributing it is incredibly valuable to the majority of the population. It is a supply and demand industry – and there seems to be ever more demand and, in the nonrenewable strand, weaning supplies.

Within these sub-sectors are different forms of energy, including (but not limited to):

    • Solar energy – harvesting the energy of the sun using solar collector panels.

      Wind energy – utilising the power of the wind with wind farms.

      Geothermal energy – utilising the heat energy produced beneath the earth.

      Tidal/Wave energy – this energy is generated by the kinetic power of tides and waves.

      Hydroelectric energy – harvesting the energy of water.

      Biomass energy – converting the energy produced from organic material.

      Nuclear energy – this works by generating energy from steam produced from nuclear fission, splitting uranium atoms inside a reactor.

    • Coal, Oil and Natural Gas – known as Fossil Fuels, these are the most commonly used sources of energy, but reserves are limited.

The use of energy has always been a key driving force behind significant industrial developments across the globe and often underpins the most significant advancements made by humanity.

Although this has helped create myriad positive developments across the world, it has also worsened the global warming crisis, caused numerous environmental disasters and is behind many political disputes – but businesses are now focusing on how to tackle these issues.

All in all, it is a very powerful industry to be involved in.

The use of energy often underpins the most significant advancements made by humanity

2

Job roles in the Energy sector

Now, when it comes to actual roles in the industry, there are multiple and they are global. It is so broad that those with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects will be well placed. Some roles include:

    • This is a very science-heavy role, involving the study of the earth’s crust, rocks, minerals and fossils. They use a knowledge of chemistry, physics and biology to locate energy sources.

    • Working in this role you will be expected to provide organisations and companies with advice on regulations and new technologies.

      They help to minimise the effect of new energy projects on the environment and reduce waste, emissions and risks.

    • Sustainability is a very important topic, particularly in the energy industry. As a sustainability manager you’ll be expected to advise and ensure the company or organisation in question continually works towards finding innovative ways to stay green, plus manage projects, budgets and the implementation of new green strategies.

    • Solar energy is growing in popularity both from a consumer and business point of view. It accounts for a very high percentage of new electricity generation yearly, so installers can be safe in the knowledge that it is a relatively stable job market for now.

    • This role involves inspecting homes and other properties and assessing their energy consumption to provide an energy efficiency rating. It involves providing practical advice to owners.

    • These individuals decide where to explore for fuel reserves, carry out risk assessments and also help meet production targets, control budgets and manage a technical team.

    • This is a very technical role, which involves designing and developing production processes. They review production schedules, processes and help devise the most efficient ways to make a product.

    • As stated, the energy sector is one of the most lucrative and most competitive. Energy companies are always very active on the stock market, with numerous factors affecting share prices; there will never be a dull day on the share floor.

    • Even the energy sector needs marketing managers. There is a lot of competition in the industry, so experienced marketing managers are used to help reach potential customers and position an energy company favourably in the market.

    • This role may be positioned remotely, but as crude oil is effectively useless until it has been refined, oil rig workers are essential. They help turn crude oil into usable products like petroleum and gasoline.

    • Finally (and don’t laugh), a mudlogger helps with the drilling for oil and gas, recording activity and collecting data.

      The people performing this role help influence important decisions regarding the placement of well sites later on.

On top of these there are multiple roles in more general specialties, such as project management, human resources, customer service, law, sales and other sustainability roles.

3

Qualifications

To break into the industry, most entry level positions require a 2:1 degree in a related subject (for example in a STEM subject) and potentially also an accredited degree or postgraduate qualification in a specific engineering discipline.

For example, becoming a Chartered Engineer or Chartered Energy Manager can pay dividends for your career in energy.

There are also many other qualifications available in Renewable Management & Finance, Electric Vehicles, Solar Photovoltaic, Biomass, Energy and Resource Efficiency and more. Organisational bodies such as the Energy Institute and the EU Energy Centre can provide further details on these courses.

For some of the more general energy roles listed above, most degree subjects are accepted.

4

Skills you need

    • You’ll need to understand various technologies and adapt to new ones, as well as understand technical designs and concepts.

    • You’ll need to be able to understand complex datasets and analyse patterns.

    • You’ll need to come up with creative resolutions to various issues.

    • You’ll need to be able to communicate well with team members and also explain complicated technical designs or concepts to people from other teams, too.

    • You’ll need to be able to adapt to changing technologies, developments in the industry and different working environments.

    • This isn’t necessarily a skill, but is very important for those working in the energy sector!

    • New energies are constantly being developed, and new ways to produce and distribute energy are also regularly introduced to the market. You’ll need to be on top of any and all developments.

5

Industry insights

The industry is often blamed for a number of environmental issues and natural disasters, so it isn’t the most PR friendly sector to join. Some companies from the industry, particularly those in the nonrenewable sector, seem to be constantly trying to improve their standing with consumers and the media.

Essentially energy businesses are faced with the issue of providing affordable energy that is safe and sustainable. Meeting these three criteria is something businesses in the past didn’t necessarily manage well, but start-ups within the industry and savvier marketing professionals are starting to pull back the fairly negative perception of energy sector companies.

There are also new targets being set by governments as they begin to recognise the connection between types of energy use and environmental problems affecting a country’s population. Because of this, there are new jobs for engineers, IT professionals, chemists, physicists and geoscientists available across the board, but there is a distinct lack of talent coming through. Therefore graduates from these sectors are in high demand.

Essentially energy businesses are faced with the issue of providing affordable energy that is safe and sustainable.

6

Work experience in the Energy sector

There are global opportunities for work experience within the energy sector, with numerous companies operating on a multinational level and having well-established internship programmes, sandwich-year placement opportunities and the chance to shadow professionals on the job.

A number of major companies in the UK, including Shell and E.ON, offer such opportunities.

7

Pros and cons

ProsCons
It is an incredibly lucrative industry, with lots of scope for progression, promotion and raises.There can be negative press and it does involve a lot of PR.
There are plenty of chances to work abroad as well as out in the open air.The marketplace is often changing, with not only new technologies but also new rules and regulations from governments. It requires constant adaptation.
Companies often have to be at the cutting edge of new technologies, meaning it is a ground-breaking sector to be involved in.Some work will require remote working and potentially long periods spent away from home.
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