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Mix engineering with energy for a bright career

Dr Morley Muse - renewable energy engineering

So you want to be an engineer and have big plans to make a positive impact on the world…

First up, you’re amazing! And second, have you thought about renewable energy engineering?

As we look to a future that relies less on fossil fuels for energy, jobs in the renewables space are booming. According to Sunshot (a report about clean energy export opportunities), renewable energy exports could create up to 395,000 new jobs in Australia by 2040! What’s even cooler is that a whopping 30,000 of these jobs will be in engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), and consulting services.

Below, we explore lots of cool opportunities in engineering + energy and take a look at some of the challenges you’ll need to tackle with your STEM skills.

Hold up! What is this type of engineering?

It’s all about developing ways to generate energy from different renewable energy sources – think solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal. This area of engineering combines lots of others (including mechanical, electrical, industrial and chemical) and you’ll also need
to be across cutting-edge tech, like energy capture and storage.

Why get into renewable energy?

Engineer, renewable energy consultant and co-founder of iSTEM Co., Dr Morley Muse says, “Relying only on fossil fuels to meet global demands is dangerous to our climate, due to the harmful effects of global warming and climate change. The use of alternative sustainable fuels is relevant to meet demands. Renewable energy is clean, sustainable and reliable, conserving natural resources and mitigating air pollution. The biggest challenges to renewables are storage and waste heat. Careers in renewable energy are important for sustainability and environmental conservation.”

Calling all problem-solvers

As Morley says, one of the biggest challenges in renewable energy is storage, so engineers working in this area will need to come up with solutions for things like storing large amounts of solar energy (so it can be used any time) and improving battery tech for electric vehicles (so cars can run more efficiently and for longer).

Engineering + renewable energy careers

Renewable energy engineer: Work on ways to produce energy from sustainable sources.

Environmental engineer: Assess the impact on the environment that renewable energy projects might have.

Electrical engineer: Design and develop systems for electrical power generation and distribution.

Mechanical engineer: Oversee the construction and maintenance of wind turbines, solar panels and hydropower stations.

Materials engineer: Research and test materials to improve their performance, and work out what materials can be used in new and emerging renewables tech.

Process engineer: Look at what equipment is needed for a renewable energy project and how it will be constructed.

Civil engineer: Manage the building of renewable-energy facilities (like hydropower stations) and tech (e.g., wind turbines) to make sure they meet safety codes.

Solar engineer: Plan and implement solar energy projects like solar panel installations on buildings or development of a solar power plant.

Geothermal engineer: Explore ways to use natural heat sources inside the earth to produce energy.

Start your career here

Engineering + Energy Study

  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Renewable Energy), UNSW
  • Bachelor of Renewable Energy Engineering (Honours), University of Newcastle
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Engineering, TAFE NSW

Engineering + Energy Jobs

  • Electrical engineer: $55K–$121K
  • Environmental engineer: $57K–$104K
  • Materials engineer: $56K–$110K

Salaries according to payscale.com

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2022. Find out more about STEM + resources and energy careers here.

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