Why do we need renewable energy?
In the effort to tackle and mitigate the effects of climate change there is a consensus that it is of vital and urgent importance that we cease to use fossil fuels as our prime source of energy and achieve a zero-carbon energy system as soon as possible. It is also widely accepted that there will be an expansion of electrification although some alternative methods of energy transmission and storage, such as hydrogen and synthetic fuels will also play their part. The demand for electricity will increase significantly, largely due to the requirements for heating (replacing the use of gas) and for the charging of electric cars. This will stretch the existing electrical infrastructure.
The requirement to cease the use of fossil fuels will result in an increase in the generation of power using renewable sources and the increased use of the electricity system to transport and distribute power. For the most part, renewable energy sources are intermittent in nature which creates issues with the balance of supply and demand required in order to maintain a stable electricity supply system. Energy storage systems can be used to help offset imbalances of supply and demand and are expected to be increasingly used in the future. The supply and demand balance can also be aided by judicious control and timing of demand, referred to as the “Demand Side Response” (DSR).
Renewable energy systems include:
Power generation sources
Energy storage and
Management of demand-side response.
Power generation sources include:
Wind (offshore and onshore),
Energy storage systems categories include:
Mechanical - pumped hydro storage, other gravity-based, compressed air, flywheels.
Electrochemical – batteries of many types including flow batteries.
Chemical – electrolysers and fuel cells, hydrogen, ethanol, biofuels
Thermal – low and high temperature
Electrostatic and magnetic - supercapacitors, super magnets.
Generation and storage systems are typically connected to the electrical power distribution system and usually require electrical power converters to transfer energy backwards and forwards in a controlled manner between the electrical system and the various forms of energy generation and storage. In order to commission and maintain such systems, a basic understanding of the function and control of power electronics-based power conversion and electro-mechanical machines is required.
The skill shortage is creating opportunities for those with the right skills
The UK Government Energy White Paper published in December 2020 predicts that by 2030 250,000 new jobs will be created by the “Green Industrial Revolution”. However, it is generally accepted that there is a skills shortage which is likely to adversely affect the achievement of this target and the continuing development of renewable energy in the UK and elsewhere. This then represents an opportunity for people with the right skills and knowledge. We will need large numbers of people at the technician and technician engineer level required to project manage, install, commission, test, trouble-shoot and maintain electrical power and control systems in the renewable energy sector.
Employees cannot totally rely on employers to provide sufficient training to span their careers and need to take some personal responsibility for their own training and maintenance of skills in a changing world. However, many people do not have the time or resources to take time off work so AllGreen Energy have a long-term plan to provide free or low-cost online vocational training courses to cover a range of topics that would be useful to anyone wishing to engage in or prepare for a career in renewable energy.
Our training courses will include a blend of theoretical, practical and trouble-shooting skills not often provided by educational institutions. The aim will be to provide a training framework that is sufficiently low cost to encourage employees to take their own initiative for self-development and/or employers to arrange training for their employees.
This will appeal to those people wishing to develop vocational skills and knowledge without attending full-time long-term courses. This would include recently qualified students, young people just setting out on their careers, or older people who need to retrain, up-skill or refresh existing knowledge in order to work effectively in the renewable sector.
Project Managers would also benefit from an improved understanding of basic fundamentals during the planning stage as well as during the commissioning and maintenance phase.
Students will benefit from a highly engaging and rewarding experience and will become more productive, enhancing their own careers as well as enhancing the performance of their employer’s business. They will develop an enhanced ability and confidence to plan projects, understand risk, commission real systems, assess results, trouble-shoot situations and converse with specialists when required.
These skills will be transferable across a variety of situations and opportunities.