It is not wrong to say that renewable energy use has been breaking records over the years. It is noteworthy that the renewable energy demand has recovered to pre-Covid levels.
Global turmoil and war-like events have led to a worldwide energy crisis. As governments try to curb fuel prices, the renewable energy transition seems inevitable.
Renewable energy promises a tremendous potential to decrease energy prices and fossil fuel dependence.
There is indeed a high initial cost associated with renewable energy. Yet, the rise in fossil fuel prices has been meteoric.
Residential solar production capacity has increased by 34% in 2021. Energy forecasts show that global battery demand will rise by 40% in 2023 at 845 GWh.
Electric vehicles (EVs) will grow to 300 million by 2050 from the current 17 million, as per forecasts.
There is, indeed, a bright future for renewables. Hence, it is wise to consider a career in renewables if one is a mechanical engineer.
The Need For Renewable Energy
There is a huge global demand for renewable energy, and it is set to grow over the next decade. We can define the need for renewable energy as we read further.
- Sustainable: Renewable energy provides clean sources of energy and is sustainable. Renewable energy sources have a lower carbon footprint than traditional fossil fuels.
- Climate Change: Renewable energy eliminates the effects of climate change by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Independence: Renewable energy reduces dependence on non-renewable resources. It provides a secure, stable, and inexhaustible energy supply.
- Economic: Renewable energy provides economic benefits by providing jobs and boosting local economies. It also has the added advantage of reducing energy costs in the long term.
- Accessible: Renewable energy is more accessible than non-renewable energy. It is easier to provide energy access to remote and underserved communities.
For the above-listed reasons, renewable energy is the need of the hour.
Is Renewable Energy Part Of Mechanical Engineering?
Renewable energy is very much a part of the field of mechanical engineering.
In the field of renewable energy, the design of mechanical systems is important. Apart from designing, development also is an important avenue.
Generation and storage of renewable energy sources are possible through systems. These systems need design and development so that end users can use them.
For example, mechanical engineers design wind turbines and solar panels. They then develop based on the design to generate and control renewable energy.
Mechanical engineers also enhance storage systems for efficient storage of generated energy.
Hence, renewable energy is a part of mechanical engineering in terms of design, development and operation.
Can Mechanical Engineers Work In Solar PV Energy?
There are two distinct types of solar systems. They are solar photovoltaic systems and solar thermal systems.
Solar PV companies hire mechanical engineers due to the lack of solar PV engineers.
Solar engineering has elements of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and physics. A specialist in any of these domains qualifies to work in solar energy.
Mechanical engineers are responsible for manufacturing the hardware in solar PV installations.
The design and manufacturing of panels and components require good mechanical engineering skills. These components include photovoltaic cells, trackers, and inverters.
The design and engineering of mounting and tracking systems require strong engineering skills. The same applies to solar energy storage systems, such as batteries.
Can Mechanical Engineers Work In Wind Energy?
Although wind energy is a large subset of renewables, employers do not find the right talent for the job.
The scope of mechanical engineering in wind energy is wide. It includes research, design, development, and testing of machines and mechanical devices.
Mechanical engineers also work on wind turbines, along with their components and systems. They assist in optimizing the performance and reducing the cost of wind energy systems.
The design and redesign of mechanical devices for further development are crucial. Mechanical engineers with strong design skills can thrive in this subset.
Mechanical engineers with strong execution skills can develop pilots and prototypes for testing.
Testing Mechanical engineers test the systems and provide feedback for design revisions. Mechanical supervisors oversee manufacturing while QA/QC engineers check for quality control.
So, mechanical engineers can provide great value in wind energy engineering.
Can Mechanical Engineers Work In Biomass Energy?
Biomass energy requires knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying engineering. Mechanical engineers can use their knowledge of physical principles and applications in operations.
Mechanical engineers can build systems for economic harvest collection. They also have the responsibility of creating technology for preprocessing of biomass feedstock.
Efficient strategies for storage and transportation systems of biomass need engineering acumen. Biomass energy can also use mechanical engineering knowledge for large-scale biomass implementation.
Engineers with design and drawing understanding can offer value in producing efficient designs. These designs may include but not be limited to the fabrication and assembly of systems.
There is a strong demand for mechanical engineering skills. And such demand can be met with the versatile availability of mechanical engineers.
These qualify mechanical engineers to play a vital role in biomass energy production.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Working On Renewable Energy?
Everything on earth has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Working on renewable energy as a mechanical engineer, too, has its share of pros and cons.
The advantages and disadvantages of working as a mechanical engineer on renewable energy are as follows:
- Constant growth in demand for engineers in the renewable energy industry.
- Extensive job opportunities in renewable energy organizations.
- Great opportunity for engineers to make a positive impact on the environment.
- Possibility of working on innovative and breakthrough technology.
- High potential for high remuneration and rapid career growth.
- Engineers may need further applied training and education.
- Projects can take a long time to develop as renewables are still in their early days.
- Heavy reliance on government policies and subsidies.
- Demands perpetual learning and adaptation due to rapid changes in technology.
Mechanical engineers are in great demand. This demand will keep rising with the global acceptance of renewables.
Labs, universities, government, and private organizations are some institutions that can provide employment. From designing to testing, every aspect of renewables requires mechanical expertise.
Hence, there is a massive variety of job assignments and immense satisfaction in contributing to mother earth.
So, yes, mechanical engineers can work in renewable energy.
- (N.d.). Nrel.gov. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/73908.pdf