Top 5 myths about working in clean energy

Contributed by Gavin Peavoy, Managing Director – Americas at NES Fircroft

The energy sector is in the middle of a major transformation. Governments around the globe are putting pressure on companies to decarbonize, with a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Big oil giants including BP, Shell, and most recently Chevron, have publicly made a net-zero carbon emissions commitment meaning that any emissions they produce will be offset by carbon capture technologies or other solutions.

Now that the goal has been set, companies will need to revise their roadmaps, relying heavily on technology and talent to get across the lower-carbon future finish line.

With new opportunities in clean energy, there are still some hesitations to make the career move. NES Fircroft, an award-winning staffing specialist, recently released its inaugural Energy Transition Outlook report which offers unique insights into the current temperature of the talent landscape. With so much opportunity in the energy transition, it’s time to shed light on the truths of working in clean energy.

MYTH #1 – Salaries are not competitive

Interestingly, many oil & gas workers stated they did not wish to make the move into the realm of clean energy because they perceived salaries to be lower. However, according to insights from the Energy Transition Outlook report, this is not necessarily the case. Of the nearly 6,000 respondents who have transitioned, more than 75% said their salary was in fact higher or about the same. Clean energy remains the biggest job creator across America’s energy sector, employing nearly three times as many workers as work in fossil fuel extraction and generation.

MYTH #2 – Skills don’t transition

It is certainly an exciting time to enter the clean energy sector, with so much public attention being placed on reducing our carbon footprint. However, like switching any career, companies need to provide adequate training to continue growing the talent pool. 71% of respondents said they needed further training in order to effectively transition skills. And in fact, those who did transition did not find the transition an easy one. The takeaway? The commitment to net-zero emissions requires a commitment to change. Companies will need to offer tailored training and development programs to ensure candidates feel confident to make the move and can apply their skillsets easily, without the risk of project delays.  

MYTH #3 – Newer industries may not offer the same stability as more established industries

Many of the big companies in the oil & gas sector are balancing the difficult equation of trying to transition their business to a more sustainable model while still ensuring the world’s energy needs can be met in the short term. To some, change is exciting, to others it’s terrifying. No matter what your stance, big oil has invested in renewable energy and it’s “front and center”. Projects that will move the needle in sustainability will have to be groundbreaking and disruptive. As John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

Editor’s Note: Renewable Energy World interviewed University of Texas Energy Institute professor Michael Webber regarding the energy transition and how clean energy companies can take advantage of a qualified oil and gas workforce to meet their needs. Read the full story here.

MYTH #4 – There are more interesting large projects in traditional sectors

With the world looking for alternative energy sources, largescale projects are popping up all over the globe. The Gemini Solar project is one example. It’s expected to be the biggest solar power facility in the US, as well as one of the biggest renewable energy projects of its kind globally. The power would feed Las Vegas and potentially additional areas in Southern California. These types of ambitious projects will provide a number of new jobs that will tap on the latest and greatest technological advances.

MYTH #5 – There just aren’t as many job opportunities

As we move into an age of new clean energy solutions it is clear that technology will play a vital role to reduce costs and accelerate change; however, people working together from across the energy spectrum will always be the key to turning the vision of a net-zero future into a reality.

There will be an abundance of new and exciting opportunities and skills training will be needed to give engineers the confidence to move into these new areas.

The results from the Energy Transition Outlook report show that many candidates feel positive about the energy transition and the exciting projects it offers. Alignment with their personal values is a key driver for many and organizations should bear this in mind when they are considering their recruitment strategies for the future.

About the author

Gavin Peavoy is managing director, Americas at NES Fircroft, a staffing company dedicated to providing the skilled engineers and technical workforce needed to deliver the energy and scientific solution for the future.