What Lies Ahead for the Renewable Energy Industry?

In our latest STEM Series event, we welcomed industry experts across the energy space to talk about the future of renewable energy in a changing fiscal environment.

What's on the horizon for careers in renewables? How will the US be impacted compared to the rest of the world? How can managers ready themselves to find the best talent? And how will the pandemic impact hiring and career trends?

We covered all of this and more in our event featuring Justin Johnson, CEO, Arevon Energy; Michael Eyman, Managing Director, Origis Services, and Progressive Senior Director, Rick Meese and Managing Director, Matt McManus  – you can watch it in full here.

Here’s an overview of some of the key takeaways:

What does the future hold for investment in solar energy within the US?

In a world currently faced with so many unknowns, we can provide a ray of light here – because the future of solar is looking particularly bright. As the industry grows at an exponential rate, our experts felt that the demand for renewable energy professionals will only increase. And investment in the industry will continue to grow, as long as there’s a desire to increase sustainable energy.

While this is positive, there’s an obvious wrench that has been thrown into the mix with COVID-19. Utility-scale projects haven’t been massively impacted, but the commercial and residential space has experienced a drop in activity, largely due to the face-to-face human interactions necessary.

But despite uncertainty within the market, there’s been a lot of pressure for companies to continue recruiting. And with business resuming some level of normality, the industry is starting to notice a new demand for employment opportunities within residential energy – largely due to continued interest in energy investment and savings. We can take this as a positive sign that the market is starting to bounce back.

Solar records are expected to be broken in 2020 – what areas of growth will the industry experience across the US?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects solar capacity for 2020 to surpass previous records – with states like Texas, California, Florida, and North Carolina already thriving. However, due to widespread interest in solar energy, the industry will likely expand and significantly widen its reach across a range of other states.

For job seekers looking to break into the industry, these infant markets will provide a great deal of opportunity. Networks won’t be as established compared to states that are already up and running with long-term connections in place. These infant markets within new states have the potential to allow solar professionals rapid career progression opportunities.

Will political issues impact the potential for renewable energy jobs moving forward?

According to our panelists, not so much. Depending on specifics, the US job market could be impacted in some capacity. But we cannot deny the global focus on renewable energy right now, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario that doesn’t continue to create more jobs in the space.

There’s a global power of change, so regardless of the political landscape, the shift towards renewable energy has already begun. And while we don’t fully know the rate of acceleration across different geographies – we aren’t going backwards.

What are the most desired skills within the market?

The nuances of the skills shortages change depending on whether you’re looking at residential projects or larger-scale commercial activities.

When it comes to the residential solar landscape, a key shortage our panel noticed was for PV installers. While demand within this market is reaching record highs, companies are struggling to maintain supply levels as they are lacking in manpower to install the panels required.

Within the utility/commercial scale projects, the desired skills are slightly different.  Unsurprisingly, a high acumen for technology came out as the top desired skill, specifically those individuals with experience in AI/machine learning and advanced reporting.

Across the industry, creating a more diverse workforce still remains a challenge. This is a key area that the industry needs to improve on across the board. That’s not to say there hasn’t been some progress in recent years, but employers need to continue the promotional push for diverse and inclusive workforces.

How will the future of employment look when it comes to location trends?

With regards to geography and remote working, the renewable energy industry relies on the delivery of power to the grid every single minute of the year. Smooth movement of various components are critical, and success is only possible when trusted and reliable networks collaborate to combat any issue in an instant.

Yes, the industry saw that businesses could operate remotely for a short while during lockdown. But perhaps unlike many other markets, the renewables industry benefits from having a core team working from a centralized location.

What does this mean for the future landscape of the renewables space? It’s difficult to say with certainty. But we’ll be keeping you connected with industry experts and sharing our specialist staffing knowledge as we move along this journey.

Interested in finding out more about how Progressive can help with your career and hiring needs? Whether you’re looking for job opportunities or interested in hiring talent, we are here to help. Fill out the form below for more information.

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