Energy and Natural Resources (Renewables)
Renewables are initiatives which harness natural sources of energy, sometimes referred as “new energies”, such as sunlight, water, and wind, to generate energy with lower carbon footprints and minimal waste products. The development of renewable resources and technology sits at the heart of efforts to counter climate change to maintain global temperature increases below 2°C.
The renewables industry is rapidly expanding worldwide as illustrated by research by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that estimates that worldwide renewable energy employment reached 12.7 million in 2021, a jump of 700,000 new jobs in one year alone. The UK is very much at the forefront of this curve, ranked second in the world for offshore wind power installed capacity. The labour market in renewables is buoyant with employment opportunities, as many corporations set about to recruit top talent to facilitate meeting deadlines ahead of those set by the Paris 2015 Agreement on climate change.
Occupations in renewables will primarily plug into three main nodes of the electricity system which translates to a wide diversity of roles in: power generation, transmission and distribution. There are opportunities to work across the value chain from supporting market entry, business development, to construction of major new projects such as the largest windfarm in the world at Doggerbank or the Scottish Green Battery Complex (the largest grid connected battery storage system in Europe), high-value manufacturing, to managing operations and maintenance of installed renewables.
There are a range of roles that you can consider which illustrate the complex mix of business and engineering roles in this sector. These roles vary from market strategist to control room operators to design engineers. In this sector you may find yourself working with academics, developers, generators, governments, policy bodies, trade bodies, R&D innovation, utility companies, research centres, and asset funds. In choosing a role in this sector, consider the type of technology that may appeal to you, and the type of company: traditional energy utilities such as EDF, to pivoting oil and gas majors such as Shell, start-ups, universities, SMEs and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Siemens Gamesa or GE Renewables.
For sector statistics, please visit the Energy, Oil and Utilities Industry Report on My Career Zone Digital which contains some data on renewables.
Career Zone Employability Schemes
We have a range of employability schemes to help increase your work experience and networks in this area.
- Career Zone Internship schemes: Internships can be extremely useful, so try and get relevant vacation work or placements.
- Ask an Alum: A fuss-free way to connect with University of Exeter alumni to ask careers questions.
- Career Mentor Scheme: A popular employability scheme which matches a student or graduate with an experienced professional, for sector insight and one-to-one careers advice and guidance, over a 6-month period.
- Green Consultants: An award-winning programme comprising of training and work experience in the environment and sustainability sector.
- Professional Pathways: a suite of sector specific training courses and paid week-long internships that take place in June.
Have a look at the following brief videos for an insight into this sector.
- International Renewable Energy Agency YouTube channel - intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future.
- Faces of Wind Energy - testimonies of people involved in wind power.
- Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult YouTube channel - videos showcasing developments in offshore wind power.
If you wish to do further research into this sector, the following webpages may be useful.
- Prospects – overview of careers in renewables.
- ENDS Report – (Environmental Data Service) intelligence gathering service collating news and analysis in sustainability.
- Renewable Energy Association – not for profit trade association for renewable energy and clean technology.
- RenewableUK– Trade body for the UK wind and marine energy industry.
- ReNews – media news coverage of the renewable sector.
- Wind Europe – association representing European manufacturers in technology harnessing the power of wind power.
- Biofuel– information about the biofuels sector.
- Centre for Alternative Technology – education charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change.
- Complete guide to finding a renewable energy job – overview guide produced by Renewable Energy Jobs, a specialist recruitment agent in the sector.
- Forum for the Future– not-for-profit organisation which promotes sustainable development.
- National Grid ESO – electricity system operator for the UK. See National Grid Future Energy for a history of the UK’s journey towards decarbonisation and live data on the state of the UK transition to a zero carbon electric grid.
- Powering our Net Future – UK government energy white paper 2020 setting out a strategy towards increased use of renewables.
For general information about finding graduate opportunities, please visit our Graduate Jobspage, and for a list of general job search engines please visit our general job sources page. You could also have a look at Handshake, our vacancy database with employers who are targeting University of Exeter students.
- ENDS Jobs – job searching arms of Environmental Data Service.
- Green Jobs – job board for professionals seeking environmental and renewable energy jobs.
- Renewable Energy Jobs – specialist sector recruitment agent.
- RenewableUK – job searching arm of RenewableUK, industry representative body.
If you have studied a related degree, check if your course is accredited by one of the professional bodies. Being a member of a professional body is voluntary however, it can be valuable for developing networks, continuing your professional development, and generally keeping up to date with what's happening in the sector.
- Energy Institute - chartered professional membership body for people who work across the world of energy.
- Engineering Council – regulatory body representing professional bodies representing: Engineering Technicians (EngTech), Incorporated Engineers (IEng), Chartered Engineers (CEng) and Information and Communications Technology Technicians (ICTTech).
- IEMA - Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, a global organisation accrediting and advocating sustainable initiatives.
- IMECHE – Institute of Mechanical Engineers – industry body representing mechanical engineers.
- Offshore Renewables Energy Catapult - UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre (quango) coordinating and advocating developments in offshore renewable energy.
- RenewableUK– trade body for the UK wind and marine energy industry
- SolarUK – trade body researching, developing and representing solar systems in the UK
- WindEurope – association representing all stakeholders involved in wind power from developers to investors.
If you wish to pursue postgraduate study before entering your chosen sector, please visit our Postgraduate Study information page for more information about choosing further study. We have a select number of programmes specifically designed for this sector: MSc Renewable Energy Engineering, MSc Applied Data Science in Renewables, MSc Electrical Power and Smart Grids.
It can often be useful to gain postgraduate qualifications in the relevant subject area if your undergraduate degree is in a different topic but, beware, there are many courses on the market, and they are not all equally successful in securing your "dream job". You can always complement your degree with professional qualifications to show your commitment towards the industry such as an IEMA accredited course or Energy Institute accredited course or Engineering Council accredited course. See the above Professional Bodies section for more information on applicable bodies.