It may not really feel like it, especially if you live in rural America, but there is a real change happening in today’s energy markets. Though certainly moving at what feels like a snail’s pace, the renewable energy market is starting to overtake the traditional fossil fuels-based markets and completely reorganize the way in which we get our energy.
As of now, there is no clear direction cleaner energy systems are going to take us. Solar and wind can provide a lot to the grid, but multitudes of ideas are still on the table. Likewise, though electric seems to be taking off as a clean alternative to gasoline or diesel in cars, alternatives such as hydrogen fuel cells are growing technologies with great promise.
Either way, the world of energy production is changing at a profound rate. Those whose jobs are related to the field would do well to start preparing and positioning themselves to take advantage of the abundant opportunities that are bound to present themselves in the coming decades. Many of these options will be significant improvements both for the environment and for human health and welfare in general.
What are the Options?
Alternative energy options are incredibly abundant — there are literally dozens of great ideas for making the world’s energy system a bit cleaner. For example, many of us are already somewhat familiar with the idea of solar or wind-generated electricity, but fewer of us have even heard of some of the other alternatives that have some very real potential for success such as:
- Space-based solar — the idea of creating solar panels that can collect the sun’s rays and transmit them to Earth as energy that can be used
- Tidal power — the idea of capturing the energy created by waves and converting it into energy
- Magma power — tapping into Earth’s core and using this heat and steam to create energy
- Algae power — capitalizing on a vegetative powerhouse to create new biofuels
- Embeddable solar power – inserting solar panels into everyday items such as windows to produce energy
- Hydrogen fuel cells — separating hydrogen from water and using the energy produced to power our devices
Any and all of these options have the potential to make a difference in our world today, and some of them already are on a small scale. Take hydrogen fuel cells for instance. These cells have a great deal of potential because they offer many of the clean energy benefits that eclectic vehicles do, but they also refill and drive much faster and farther.
Numerous companies have long been working to incorporate hydrogen fuel cells into their business. For instance, Cummins, a motor vehicle company, is investing in hydrogen fuel cells as a future option. Others such as Toyota and Honda are also pushing heavily for the continued development of hydrogen fuel celled cars.
Who is Affected?
These advancements in clean energy technology are set to upend nearly every aspect of the global market. From consumers who will see an explosion of options for their power systems to the mechanics, manufacturers, and installation technicians on the ground who will be responsible for the nitty-gritty aspects of making everything run smoothly, we will all see a difference. Already, the renewable energy industry was worth nearly $928 billion in 2017 and is expected to more than double by 2030.
Industries such as manufacturing are already seeing significant changes through the adoption of automation and advancements in robotics. Many of these systems can be adapted to handle the new requirements of alternative energy production. What more, some cities are seeing a revival in manufacturing where renewable options are growing — for instance, a Maytag washer manufacturing facility that left a small Iowa town a few decades ago has been replaced with a company producing blades for windmills.
How do we Prepare?
Preparing for this change comes in a number of ways. First and foremost is going into it with an open mind. Sure, there are certainly going to be jobs that are no longer relevant which will force many people to look for something new. However, in many cases, many clean energy companies are looking for people that are willing to work and learn new skills. For example, many coal miners are being recruited for wind and solar jobs because of their work ethic and high tech skills.
Second is to think of these changes from a logistics standpoint. Any logistics professional could tell you that there are multiple moving parts to analyze. After all, all of these new energy developments are going to need plenty of people — both directly and indirectly — to get off the ground. Technicians are needed for installation, engineers are needed for development, but additionally, manufacturers are needed to create parts in bulk, drivers are needed to ship things across the country, and mechanics are needed to make fixes. Many jobs are transferable.
Make no mistake, the world’s energy systems are changing at a rapid rate. There are plenty of new ideas out there that can help bring us towards a cleaner, more sustainable environment. And though many industries will be impacted by these changes, there are plenty of opportunities for these changes to bring about economic revival and job opportunities.
Indiana Lee, Contributor
Indiana Lee is a professional writer who resides in the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her two dogs and creating. Follow her Twitter account to learn more about her.