Renewable power is becoming more than a mantra of "green" energy advocates. It’s now a career reality for many new science and engineering grads. And among the many areas leading the charge will be employment in the geothermal industry.
A recent report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) noted that new geothermal power plants soon to come online would create thousands of jobs. Nearly one thousand jobs are involved in a typical geothermal project.
The GEA "Green Jobs through Geothermal Energy" report found that the geothermal industry will be creating more high paying permanent full-time jobs than conventional energy. To help fuel this job market, the GEA has developed a “US Geothermal Education and Training Guide,” which lists 22 undergraduate and graduate geothermal related programs being offered at US colleges and universities.
The GEA expects that the next few years will see considerable geothermal activity, with as much as 95 percent of the projects receiving funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Construction should soon be finalized for projects capable of delivering 500 to 700 Megawatts of power. This puts the geothermal industry on a fast track, especially with state and federal mandates and incentives kicking in even more support. GEA Executive Director noted that Recovery Act funding push projects to completion and create more jobs.
What’s more, a recent Energy Information Agency (EIA) report (Annual Energy Outlook 2012) projects U.S. renewable power production to more than double by 2035. The report projects geothermal to triple its production by 2035, far ahead of the overall trend. EIA noted that growth in renewable generation is supported by many state requirements, as well as new regulations on CO2 emissions, such as those in California. The share of U.S. electricity generation coming from renewable fuels (including conventional hydropower) has grown from 10 percent in 2010 to a projected 16 percent by 2035.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in geothermal energy, some jobs you may want to explore include geochemists, geologists, geophysicists, hydrologists, reservoir engineers, and hydraulic engineers who locate, assess, and access geothermal reservoirs.
Mechanical engineers, geologists, drilling crews, heating contractors, ventilation contractors, and air conditioning contractors will also be needed to manufacture and install geothermal heat pumps. And qualified mechanical engineers, electronic engineers, geologists, chemists, and materials scientists will be called on for R&D work in this sector.
So if you want to pusue a career in renewable power, you might give serious thought to getting into the geothermal industry.