Electricians as Alternative Energy Contractors

windmillsWith the development of the Smart Grid and the resulting increased integration of renewable energy systems, alternative energy sources are here to stay. Many public utilities have stepped up their investment in alternative energy systems, including alternative energy sourced from customer-owned power generation systems, such as residential solar energy system. The Smart Grid is still currently developing to account for all the myriad functions it is expected to respond to, not only for renewable energy goals but also economics, national security, and a quicker response time in cases of power outages. This might make the job of electricians somewhat easier, but it also means that electricians would need to get a leg up in alternative energy sources if they want to be able to deliver relevant and up-to-date electrical services.

The use of the Smart Grid enables more efficient delivery of energy from the source to where the demand is, thus responding to one of the greater drawbacks of renewable energy: its inability to meet peak energy demands. Ideally, the Smart Grid should be able to integrate alternative energy sources such as wind turbines, PV or photovoltaic panels, and other alternative energy sources.

electriciansThese developments have created another nuance to the installation of electrical systems, which is to update the current lines of energy distribution and to ensure the proper installation of grid-connected power-generating equipment. Various states that are quickly making the transition to alternative energy sources have also begun to set up rules and regulations regarding any type of electrical work involving alternative energy. The bottom line is, the installation of alternative-energy producing equipment, particularly those that connect directly to Smart-grid lines, must be handled by licensed electricians. In many jurisdictions, therefore, alternative energy systems have been properly classified as falling under electrical work, which only state-licensed electricians can do.

This does not account for other aspects of alternative energy installation, which might involve roofing work for PV systems, contractors regarding building structure and construction work, or engineers in the design work. But electrical work should be considered as specific to electricians, particularly electricians with sufficient training and experience in alternative energy systems.

These developments in the power industry make it imperative for electricians to get appropriate training and experience, as there are those who would do the work themselves even though they aren’t licensed electricians, on the strength of alternative energy systems training, which arguably anyone can do. DIYers, for instance, might not think twice about setting up their own home-based power generation system with no professional assistance, forgetting that electrical work should only be done by licensed electricians. After all, no matter how you dress things up in alternative energy jargon, the work still involves electricity, and there are dangers to electrical work that need to be accounted for, as well as legal codes that need to be met. The simplest solution is for electricians to fill in that gap as quickly as possible, by updating their work skills and training to include alternative energy systems work. The great thing is that there are some training institutes offering alternative energy systems education, alternative energy contractors with whom one might train with and gain practical experience, and certainly no end to alternative energy projects that are projected to create thousands of new jobs for green electricians.

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Types of Sustainable and Renewable Energy that Generates Electricity

Sustainable energy has been defined as our capacity to meet the demand for energy, where the environment, as well as the availability of the energy source, is not compromised for future generations.

The demand for sustainable energy came in response to our years of dependence on fossil fuels and oil for power. But fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource and are finite in supply. Moreover, the use of fossil fuels and oil generate carbon dioxide emissions which adversely affect the environment, contributing to global warming, thus severely compromising the world’s capacity to meet and sustain the long-term welfare of human societies on a global scale. The same issues have also been true for other energy sources such as nuclear energy and hydropower. Inevitably, the environment is compromised because of carbon dioxide emissions.

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We have always recognized the tremendous potential for power and energy present, but it was only in recent years that we have begun to truly explore how to harness these energy sources in a way that makes it cost-efficient, and accessible to many. These days, there are many possible alternative energy sources that can be tapped into to meet the growing demand for electricity, with three, in particular, being considered as both renewable and clean energy sources. This provides us with potentially infinite energy sources that, when harnessed, have minimal impact on the environment. These are solar, wind, and wave power sources.

While there are some alternative energy sources that we can tap into to meet the growing electricity demands, these alternative energy sources are not always renewable or clean. Hydroelectric plants, for instance, have been criticized for the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide emissions; and geothermal power while potentially powerful, are limited only to certain locales where they are accessible.

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Wind and solar power energy have garnered the most attention in recent years as a potential energy source, despite the difficulty of its intermittent availability. Because both are affected by naturally occurring weather phenomenon, they may not always be available, or even when available, insufficient to meet demand. Where wind and solar energy are used, there is almost always another potential energy source to fill in the gaps. Other renewable and alternative energy sources include geothermal power and biomass, but the challenge is still efficient harnessing and storage of these energy sources to increase electrical supply.

In the services area, the job description is for “green” electricians or “green” electrical contractors. As utility companies have begun to utilize alternative energy sources like wind and solar energy, the work for Lafayette electricians has also expanded exponentially. Green electricians are now being called in to set up a home for solar arrays with a grid-tie-in that allows solar power to be fed back into the power grid- particularly in areas where utility companies actually pay homeowners for the solar power they produce and contribute to the power grid.

Wind energy, on the other hand, is particularly promising for electrical contractors. New wind farms are being set up, where wind energy contractors and electricians are needed to set up and maintain the wind turbines, as well as feed the energy generated into the power grid. Effective utilization of wind energy and wind farms can potentially create hundreds of jobs for green electricians.

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Clean Energy as a Modern and Legitimate Career Path for Electricians

Sustainable energy is based on the twin concepts of renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is premised on utilizing clean energy, or energy with minimal impact on the environment, the utilization of which will not compromise its supply or other resources for future generations, and the ability to meet energy demands at any given time. The term sustainable energy is not really a watchword in terms of career options, however, with many people preferring the more apt and concise term “green energy.”

The move towards green energy has been so immense that job prospects in the next seven years are expected to open up, with at least 150,000 new jobs being created. Investments by both private industries and public companies have been huge, and people are now hiring like crazy. But to be able to find competent people to deliver green energy specific work, one needs to find appropriately trained individuals. In response, training institutes have been offering courses in renewable energy, and people are lining up for them.

It is an industry that can only be expected to grow in the next several years, meaning that one who decides to build his career in clean energy has a good outlook ahead of him and for several years more to come. The exciting thing about these developments is that we are now witnessing the beginning of what is projected to be an industry with immense growth. Anyone who can get their foot in this early has the makings of being pioneers in a very promising field.

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The good news is that the industry has the flexibility to open its doors to numerous talent from different areas of expertise. As with any other industry, there is a need for human resources, managers, accountants, marketing persons, and all other careers that help to keep a business running. Central to green energy development, however, is the need for trained and certified green electricians. The industry is, in a sense, still starting out. There is as much job opening as there are training being offered for those who wish to be involved in green energy, and it is certainly an easy industry to become excited about. It is exciting, cutting-edge, fast-paced, but best of all; the entire industry is geared towards providing clean energy, managing the earth’s resources, creating and delivering energy to homes and businesses, while at the same time also saving the planet.

But while training is open to everyone, most states are already stepping up regulations to ensure that only licensed electricians work with electrical systems sourced from alternative energies. The reason should be obvious – whether or not you are working with traditional electrical systems, or with electricity sourced from alternative and renewable energy sources, the baseline is that you are still working with electricity. And electricity is a dangerous field which the state has an interest in regulating for reasons not only of safety but also energy efficiency. That is why acquiring green energy training is so crucial to licensed electricians. Providing jobs to licensed electrical contractors and professionals in the electricity industry offers the most seamless shift from one energy source to another, or in the interim, of working with more than one energy source at the same time. You need people who can work with both kinds of energy systems, while still having the basic competence, qualification, and license to work with electricity and energy systems as a whole.

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Renewable Energy Education and Training for Electricians

In most industries and career fields, one needs to stay on top of changes and developments to be able to stay competitive, whether it be keeping abreast of technological developments or staying updated with changes in regulatory controls and work environment standards. And this is particularly true for electricians, with respect to the changing landscape of energy sources and the burgeoning alternative energy sector. The gradual but steady integration of alternative energy sources has made it practically imperative for electricians to update their skills and training if they want to continue working within the parameters of the changing landscape of energy and electrical systems. Some 150,000 jobs are projected to open up for electricians within the next seven years, and all of them within the context of alternative energies.

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An electrician has the option of entering several different fields of alternative energy courses and training, although it is probably a good idea to get a good general grasp of as much new alternative energies as one can. More specific training in particular energy sources and the nuances of each are also offered. Courses include small-scale Photovoltaic (PV) Systems, Solar PV for Roofers, Domestic Wind Turbine Course, including some of the more practical applications of shifting to renewable energy sources such as in the installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment.

The good news is that a number of training institutes are offering precisely this: training, hands-on experience, and even a period of apprenticeship for certification courses in alternative energy sources. Numerous electrician associations such as local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) throughout the country are also assisting its member electricians to stay competitive by offering selected training in particular renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind turbines, or more.

As of 2015, there were only about 500 renewable certified electricians throughout the United States, most of whom were in California. Certification is mainly given by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the North American Board of Solar Energy Practitioners (NABSEP).

These industry developments are exciting because there is growth in so many different directions all at once. The electrician who wishes to stay on top of things has the option of specializing in one or more particular alternative energy solution. Having a good general grasp of all alternative energies is simply not enough. This is a field in which one needs specialized training, education, and ideally, years of apprenticeship before one can be considered fully experienced with even just one particular energy resource. If the electrician wants the fluidity of being able to work across different alternative energies, then he needs to put in the respective training, education, and apprenticeship for all of them. That is why staying on top of the game in this rapidly changing field is so important.

solar panels 1But even if one only sticks with one particular renewable energy resource, the outlook is already particularly good. For instance, just the completion of a solar panel training course, where the course includes training in the installation of solar panels and wiring it up to a grid is substantial. Add to that sufficient background for the necessary foundation in construction work for the roofing installation, and all the other necessary work that goes on in PV installations already promises so much more for a green electrician’s career.

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