Is renewable energy a good career path? Companies to work for in the renewable energy industry
The clean renewable energy industry is growing and attracting a lot of attention as we move towards a carbon-neutral society. It's an industry with huge potential and a strong forecast, making it a promising place to build a career.
In this article we'll take a look at the different types of companies in the renewable energy sector, what jobs and professions are available, and what jobs are likely to be in demand in the future. If you're interested in a career in the renewable energy sector, read on to find out more.
What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is energy that is generated from natural sources such as sunlight and wind, rather than from fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which are limited in supply. In addition to being a semi-permanent source of energy, renewable energy is one of the main ways to combat climate change as it doesn’t emit CO2.
Types of renewable energy
Renewable energy can be broadly divided into the following:
- Solar power
- Wind power
- Biomass power
- Geothermal power
You can find out more about each type of renewable energy and their current status in Japan by clicking here.
What companies are in the renewable energy field?
Depending on the type of power plant, there are many companies and a large number of stakeholders including governments, local authorities and local interests involved in the whole process – from surveying the area (or sea area) where the plant could be located, developing the plant to getting the equipment up and running. As such, we’ve compiled a list of companies involved in renewable energy projects that may help you understand them better.
Type of companies to work for within the renewable energy field: Power companies
Power companies are the main generators of electricity and are naturally central to the renewable energy sector. As electricity providers, they have the advantage of being able to draw on the technology and experience they have gained from conventional thermal and nuclear power generation.
Hokkaido Electric Power, Tohoku Electric Power, Tokyo Electric Power, Chubu Electric Power, Hokuriku Electric Power, Kansai Electric Power, Chugoku Electric Power, Shikoku Electric Power, Kyushu Electric Power, and Okinawa Electric Power have all set targets for the introduction of renewable energy by 2030 and are working towards making renewable energy the main source of power in all areas of solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal power. The construction of two offshore wind farms off the coast of Akita Prefecture is a major project with several power companies participating.
Type of companies to work for within the renewable energy field: Energy companies
Companies that deal mainly in traditional energy sources such as oil and natural gas are also using their expertise to develop renewable energy projects.
INPEX, ENEOS Holdings, Cosmo Energy Holdings, Idemitsu Kosan and many other oil companies are currently participating in solar and wind power projects in Japan.
Type of companies to work for within the renewable energy field: Renewable energy companies
Renewable energy companies vary widely in terms of the nature of their business, but most of them are involved in the research, development and operation of renewable energy power stations, as well as the sale of electricity to households through power companies.
Typical Japanese companies include Pacifico Energy, Renova, G3 Holdings, Japan Renewable Energy, C-Tech and Abalance Group, as well as Japan Wind Development, which focuses on wind power, and eF-on, which focuses on biomass. There are also a number of companies with global operations, such as Vena Energy in Singapore and Ørsted, which is based in Denmark.
Type of companies to work for within the renewable energy field: General trading companies
Sogo shosha (otherwise known as general trading companies) are deeply involved in the power generation business in Japan and around the world, from developing overseas oil and natural gas resources, to exporting turbines and generators made by Japanese manufacturers, and even to building local power stations.
The Akita Offshore Wind Farm (AOW), which began construction in 2021 off the coast of Akita Port, is led by Marubeni Corporation, but there are many other offshore wind and solar power projects underway across Japan. Many of the other offshore wind and solar farms being developed in Japan are owned by Japanese trading companies such as Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui & Co, Sumitomo Corporation and ITOCHU Corporation.
Type of companies to work for within the renewable energy field: General Contractors
General contractors are also essential to the development and construction of power stations. Obayashi Corporation, Kajima Corporation, Toda Corporation, PENTA-OCEAN CONSTRUCTION and many other similar companies are involved in the construction of power stations.
Type of companies to work for within the renewable energy field: Power generation module and component manufacturers
There are a number of companies that make solar panels, wind turbines and other components required for the construction of power generation equipment and generators. This is a field that is attracting a number of new entrants. It is estimated that more than 10,000 components are required for each offshore wind turbine, and many companies have been trying to develop technologies to reduce costs and improve power generation efficiency.
Solar power companies include world-renowned Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar, First Solar and SunPower Corp, while wind power companies include turbine designers and manufacturers Vestas, General Electric (GE), Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Enercon.
In Japan, Solar Frontier (a wholly owned subsidiary of Showa Shell), Panasonic, Toshiba, Kyocera, Sharp and Choshu Industry are among the various manufacturers that produce solar panels.
Other companies involved in the development of offshore wind farms include marine development companies such as Mitsui Ocean Development Company Limited (MODC), shipbuilding companies such as Hitachi Zosen, shipping companies such as NYK Line, companies that manufacture cables for electrical transport, companies that transport components, and countless others.
Types of projects in renewable energy
As mentioned above, the renewable energy sector is very broad, but some of the jobs and positions that are central to the development and operation of power stations include:
- Business development, planning and supervision
- FSE (Field Service Engineer)
- Electrical and mechanical engineers
- Project managers
- Construction management
Skills in demand in the renewable energy industry
Of all the renewable energy projects on the market, offshore wind power is currently attracting a lot of attention due to the sheer scale of the projects. As construction work begins and the bidding process begins in areas where studies have already been completed, more international companies are expected to enter the Japanese market. This is then likely to result in an increase of demand for people with the following skills and experience:
- Business development
- Coordination and negotiation with stakeholders and the Japanese government
- Project finance
- Project management
- Electrical qualifications, including a first-class electrician
- Communication skills (including language skills)
Is the renewable energy industry a good career path?
Although some sectors such as solar are experiencing market saturation due to a large number of participating companies, there is still a lot of potential for growth due to government and international support. In addition to the high salaries, the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects or multinational projects with people from different backgrounds remains a major attraction.
Furthermore, as renewable energy is a relatively new market, industry experience may not be required. This is a great opportunity to start a career within the energy and have the chance to gain experience and skills early on in an area that is expected to grow and become greater in demand.
With the international focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the renewable energy industry is well placed to lead the way as companies seek to make their businesses more sustainable. It's an industry that not only has a global impact but is also hugely rewarding.
Looking to consider a career in renewable energy?
Progressive Recruitment has deep relationships and years of experience working with the world's leading companies in the renewable energy industry. Our expert consultants in Japan have in-depth knowledge of recruitment and career opportunities in this sector. Through our extensive network of contacts in the renewable energy industry, we are able to connect highly skilled professionals with companies looking to expand their business in Japan.
Take a look at our latest vacancies below or contact us using the form at the bottom of this page if you wish to find out more or engage in any confidential discussions.