Learn About Solar Energy Engineers
Solar energy is the cleanest renewable energy source available to our planet today. With the threat of global warming literally hanging over our world, solar energy has become a desired remedy to help fight the cause. Without any harm to the environment, we can now convert the sun's light and heat into electricity. This is why we need Solar Engineers now more than ever!
What is Solar Engineering?
The sun has been used for thousands of years to help us live. Long ago, people were only able to use the sun when it was available during the daytime and its uses were very limited. Today, through some really incredible technological advances, we are able to harness and save the sun's energy and convert its light and heat into electricity!
Solar Engineering is the process by which we research, design, develop, and implement the use of solar power. Here are some common solar energy products that you may have already seen or heard about:
- Solar hot water heaters (uses thermal energy)
- Solar panels that power your home or business (known as solar photovoltaic or PV panels)
- Solar chargers for all your electronic devices
The people responsible for all of this are called engineers, more specifically, Solar Engineers!
What Does a Solar Engineer Do?
Think of everything which requires electricity. It's practically everywhere we are and in everything that we do! Solar Engineers imagine ways we can use this energy to make thing work. Their job typically begins with a client consultation, site assessment, and financial assessment, which allows them to analyze and estimate the project. The engineer then designs the best plan and takes all relevant factors into consideration. They may also oversee or manage the implementation of the plan and report on the efficiency, cost, and safety of the project. The engineer may also be consulted to handle any outages, emergencies, and system maintenance.
Here are some really impressive solar engineering projects that have been implemented in our world.
Where Does a Solar Engineer Work?
Usually, a Solar Engineer works in an office, but sometimes they may need to travel to different work sites, including overseas locations around the world. In order to inspect rooftop installations, they frequently climb ladders and may need to carry heavy loads for short distances.
Watch this video of a Solar Engineer's Day at Work.
Why is Solar Engineering Important?
There are over 7.8 billion people in this world. Most of them use electricity on a daily basis for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking, watching TV, using computers and other devices, and much more. That's a lot of electricity!
There are several ways to generate electricity. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum to generate electricity have proven to be effective, but these are not renewable resources, meaning eventually we will run out of them! The negative effects that fossil fuels have on the environment include air pollution, global warming, and rising sea levels. Therefore, renewable and clean energy resources are the way of the future!
In 2019, it was reported that less than 20% of the generated electricity in the United States was from solar power. That is pretty low considering its availability. So, why aren't we using more? Some say it's the cost or its dependency on the weather, or the bulkiness of the equipment, etc. However, like many things, time allows for improvements. In fact, just recently, a new solar panel design was introduced and promises the potential wider use of solar energy. Look at how far we've come with technology over the last few decades. We need more innovative minds to continue to evolve solar technology to make it better, more efficient, and more desirable.
Interested in Solar Engineering?
Solar Engineering has great research and development opportunities and there are many jobs available in numerous industries such as power companies, the military, commercial companies, as well as scientific research. This profession could be a commendable career choice. You could begin by taking some of these related courses in high school:
- Computer Science
- Applied Technology
A Solar Engineer has an education, degree and/or license, in one or more of the following areas of study:
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Civil Engineering
Also, most Solar Engineers use computer aided design (CAD) to help design their projects so they should also be familiar with AutoCAD or Google SketchUp.
What is the Average Salary of a Solar Engineer?
According to a recent report for the year 2020, an entry-level Solar Energy Engineer with little to no experience can make anywhere between $50,750 to $69,890 per year or $24 to $34 per hour. An experienced Solar Engineer averages almost $100,000 per year or about $48 per hour.
Related Resources, Fun Facts & Games
- Play one or more of these games that are geared toward engineering! Do you have what it takes to be an Engineer?
- Learn the basics of Solar Energy.
- Weigh the benefits of Solar Energy vs. Fossil Fuels.