As the world slowly swings away from fossil fuels, renewable energy is becoming a more vital field of exploration, invention and career opportunity. And chiefly involved, as in any drive to improve humanity’s experience and impact on this planet, is the field of engineering. Renewable energy engineering is becoming more than just a nice-to-have new arm to engineering, but a crucial spearpoint into the future of the discipline and a host of concomitant industries.
Renewable Engineers work on the production of energy from renewable or sustainable sources such as: wind, solar, and hydro or marine power. They research and develop new machinery and equipment, production processes and ways to minimise impact on the environment. It promotes the design, commercialisation, and use of products and processes aimed at reducing pollution, promoting sustainability, and minimising risk to both the environment and human health – while at the same time maintaining economic viability and efficiency.
Why green engineers will rule
Currently, the Earth faces tough environmental problems such as climate change, high energy costs, burgeoning population growth, and the destructive results of pollution. The answer is green solutions such as designing buildings to be environmentally friendly, reducing industrial emissions, saving energy, and diminishing allergies and illnesses through better pollution control.
Just looking at the plans and applications of this ambition is impressive:
Converting solar energy into electricity. Currently, there are two common technologies: photovoltaic, where the sunlight is converted directly to electricity; and solar thermal, where the sun heats water and creates the steam required to power steam engines.
- Conserving and improving natural ecosystems while protecting human health and well-being.
- Ensuring all materials and energy outputs are as safe and benign as possible.
- Minimising the depletion of available natural resources.
- Preventing as much waste as possible.
- Monitoring the environment by continually measuring greenhouse gases.
- Looking at wind energy becoming an essential source of renewable energy.
- Optimising existing renewable energy technology so that it becomes more cost efficient to develop related infrastructure.
- Integrating different renewable energy technologies.
- Researching various materials and studying material interactions for use in renewable energy, potentially leading to the development of technologies and infrastructure for generating and distributing power.
- Energy storage is one of the key areas that presents both challenges and opportunities for renewable energy engineering — although it is possible to store large amounts of energy, it is often cost-prohibitive to build the technology required to do so at scale.
- Developing energy storage systems in order to create transportation and power generation – this will encompass electrical, chemical, thermal and mechanical engineering.
- Mechanical Engineers in particular, will make numerous contributions to the sector through research and development, addressing problems with regard to energy storage for long periods of time, and how to improve the design of equipment ranging from cooling systems to wind turbines.
All these aspects, particularly in the areas of energy storage and protecting the environment, increase the demand for engineers to work in the renewable sector. There is no doubt that this demand will boom in the coming years. Engineers are needed to research, design and construct ways to improve the way we use energy and resources, and to find new eco-friendly and financially sustainable sources of energy as the future unfolds.
Get in Outsourced Engineers to handle your project
Imagine you could take your pick from a dream stable of just about every kind of engineering resource available at a moment’s notice. OutEng offers just that. Comprising a network of trusted, experienced and highly skilled engineers, project managers and technical people, including ECSA registered engineers in almost every discipline, all our engineers are freelancers or contractors who are contracted in per job as their skill is required. Each operates as an independent Business Unit, therefore covering own overheads (working from home or over weekends or remotely).
OutEng is setting new trends and standards in an agile, trust-based business style that is taking the engineering environment by storm. Across a multitude of cost-effective engineering and project services, you can expect:
- solid expertise and experience
- a unique combination of design, project management and engineering capability
- well-informed professionals who are up to date with the latest research.
To find out more, visit: www.outeng.co.za