“After the boom of coal in the last decade, the 21st century is now the century of renewable energy.”

These are the words of Greenpeace Climate Policy Analyst Martin Kaiser following research on renewable energy released this spring by the United Nations. The UN concluded that clean power plants and nuclear stations need to triple their output for the world to avoid the negative effects of global warming.

What’s the latest word on demand for renewable energy and what does it mean for the industry’s upcoming employment outlook?

A $17 Trillion Investment

As reported by the UN, more than $17 trillion in investment will be needed in the next 21 years to meet electricity demand alone, in order to meet needed renewable energy output. Governments worldwide will be called upon to accelerate developments to replace carbon emissions and cut back on greenhouse gases. The next 20 to 30 years will be a transitional period from dirty coal to clean energy.

  • Fresh investments in renewable, nuclear and carbon energy capture and storage must grow by $147 billion.
  • An increased investment of $336 billion will be required to make buildings and transportation more energy efficient.
  • Polluting fossil fuel plants need to be wound down to ensure that global warming is limited to a 2 degree increase by 2030. Greenhouse gases must decrease by 40 percent to 70 percent by 2050.

The United States is the world’s second largest coal consumer after China, which uses more coal than the rest of the world combined. Both nations are working to decrease the number of coal power stations in their energy sectors.

Green Jobs on the Rise

Rapidly skyrocketing U.S. and global reliance on renewable energy will continue to drive employment growth in the years ahead. This includes jobs in design, product and project management, and mechanical sales and service, field service and application engineering.

  • Solar industry job growth is expected to soar. This trend is being driven in large part by falling solar panel prices. Solar energy is becoming a major player across the U.S. as more and more panels are installed.
  • Wind is the fastest-growing energy source. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that it could contribute 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030.
  • Renewable energy engineers are at the heart of the growing green job sector. This includes those working in wind, geothermal and hydropower as well as solar energy.

The national median salary for engineers working in renewable energy as of December 2013 was $65,001. For mechanical engineers, this figure was $66,540 and for mechanical engineers working in the natural gas business, it was $77,670.

Are you interested in launching or advancing your career in renewable energy? Stay ahead of the competition by partnering with a staffing firm that specializes in this burgeoning new employment arena. To learn more, read our related posts or contact Magellan Search & Staffing today.