Ahead of the UK general election later this week, people who are passionate about sustainable energy and climate change are listening closely to party leaders to hear whether they share the same enthusiasm for renewable energy. The hope for people in the industry is that whoever it is that comes into power, they will continue to prioritise renewable power, investing in innovation, driving down consumer costs and capitalising on the cleaner energy that the likes of wind, solar and hydro can offer.
Wind power in particular has been gaining strength in recent years and as such, numerous job opportunities have opened up across the UK and Europe. Here are some of the reasons why wind is becoming such a powerful force in the renewables market and why it’s a good time to work in wind.
European investments in offshore wind increased by 39% in 2016, bringing the total amount of wind power funding to €27.5 billion last year (Wind in Power report, Wind Europe). This investment means that wind power accounted for 51% of total power capacity installations in Europe in 2016. It also means that wind power has overtaken coal as the second largest form of power generation capacity in Europe, with a total installed capacity of 153.7 GW (also Wind in Power report).
The UK in particular has been a big supporter of wind energy. According to Wind Europe’s Wind in Power report, the country was the biggest investor in wind for the second consecutive year, with €12.7 billion spent on the construction of onshore and offshore wind farms in 2016, equating to 46% of the total wind energy investments made within Europe last year.
The renewables sector is one which is powered by innovation and tenacity. It has taken a lot of years to seek the approval and funding from the UK Government which has been necessary to really test and prove the capabilities of renewable energy sources and those within the industry are keen for this momentum to continue under the new leadership post 8 June 2017.
To create efficiencies in installation and energy production, the renewables industry is constantly putting new technology to the test. Advancements are being made in many areas of the project lifecycle from the manufacture of wind turbine blades using advanced materials like carbon fiber to the control of turbines once they are installed using sensors. These developments are changing the types of qualifications and experience employers are after with more emphasis being placed on electronics, hardware and systems controls skills.
Within Europe there are many hubs for wind power. Germany is the leading player boasting the largest installed wind power capacity (50 GW) and when combined with Spain (23.1 GW), the cumulative capacity of both countries represents 48% of total EU capacity (Wind in Power report). Other nations with notable wind power capacity include France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania. Unsurprisingly, compared to the rest of the world, Europe is seen as the most industry leading region for engineering by those who work in renewables (Matchtech Voice of the Workforce 2017).