Whether working on oil and gas exploration or discovering new sources of power, working in the Energy and Utilities field will provide you with huge intellectual challenges.
The industry is wide and varied and so critical to our everyday lives that it offers an interesting career choice to anyone. Whether your interest is in the arts or the sciences, a job in the energy industry can cater for everyone.
It is an area that continues to make rapid technological advances all the time and can offer exciting prospects to the most highly skilled and qualified engineers, scientists and technicians along with opportunities for non-engineering roles in support services such as project managers, lawyers, accountants etc.
The diversity of jobs is endless and opportunities exist to work pretty much anywhere in the world. All sectors of the industry have a part to play in providing us with secure and sustainable supplies of energy in the future. New ways to make existing supplies last longer, as well as research and development into new ones, must combine in our long-term move to a world less dependent on carbon-based fuels.
Utility companies, who supply electricity, gas, water and sewerage services, are at the forefront of technological research. They are constantly striving to find ways of supplying their customers more efficiently and within budget. Some of the biggest names in the utilities sector include, National Grid, Thames Water and British Gas.
The renewables sector offers a variety of job opportunities. Many are office based, but may include travelling to sites and dealing with clients. There are engineers designing wind turbines, researching how to optimise production. There are also geologists who check the sites and ground for wind turbines, ensuring they are put in the best place possible.
Oil & gas
With demand for oil and gas increasing, and greater care being taken of our natural resources, the oil industry faces a challenging and exciting future – one that is going to test its ingenuity and expertise to the full. There are scientists in laboratories researching into the uses of oil, and roustabouts on platforms in the North Sea, struggling to repair a drill while a gale rages around them. There are engineers at refineries, ensuring the safety of this volatile product, and sales people discussing the latest oil products with customers.
The nuclear industry is currently made up of ten operational power stations, nine decommissioned ones and several other civil and defence sites around the UK. The industry also includes a wide variety of contractor companies such as engineering and construction companies, makers of specialist equipment and providers of expert services. There are scientists in power plants helping to ensure that the plant works efficiently and helping in the production, reprocessing and storage of nuclear fuel and in waste handling in the UK.
There are engineers to ensure that the plants runs productively and safely, they even work with the Royal Navy helping to construct nuclear powered submarines.
Water & waste management
The environmental industries sector has three large sub-sectors – Water and Wastewater; Waste; and Energy. Within the UK, the environmental sector has 17,000 companies employing 400,000 people (2009 figures). In 2005 the sector had a turnover of over £25 billion.
The UK Water Industry has more than 500 companies and employs around 80,000 people. This is a growing sector which has a focus on innovation and research.
In terms of the training need, the EU Skills (the sector skills council for gas, power, waste and water, which covers over 90% of the sector) noted in its 2010 report: ‘…an ageing workforce means the requirement for new skills and recruitment strategies are critical’.
The report noted that over the next five years, the water and waste industries will need to replace 50% of its operatives and engineers. There is clearly an opportunity for training at all levels within the sector.
Power to the people
One of the great challenges facing engineers in particular in the energy and utilities sector is how to ensure that new technology and renewable power can be cost-efficient and sustainable. Making these new sources of energy available on a large scale, so that they can impact on the lives of the public and be affordable to everyone, is something that engineers are constantly striving towards.
Be a part of this innovative area of engineering and you really could change the world.