Jobs in the Alternative Energy Industry
Alternative energy refers to those sources of energy which are considered less main-stream and apart form the norm – hence the label “alternative.”
With this definition, the term alternative energy can also encompass most types of renewable energy, the majority of which are still in the developmental process. These include hydroelectric, solar, wind and biofuel energy. Energy sources that do not fall under the alternative energy spectrum include natural gas, as well as coal and petroleum, which have served as the primary source for the world’s energy needs for years. As people around the world have become more environmentally conscious, there has been a desire for alternative energies that are less damaging to the environment than these traditional sources of energy. Continued demand for cleaner alternative energy options means that prospects in the alternative energy job market will continue to grow in the future. If you are thinking of entering the alternative energy field, there is no time like the present to get your career started.
The Question of Nuclear Energy
There is no clear-cut line between alternative and renewable energy, although in some cases the term “alternative energy” is used in an all-encompassing manner to refer to any energy source that is considered “non-mainstream.” Nuclear energy offers a notable example. Unlike coal and petroleum fuel sources, nuclear power – which is produced using mined Uranium – does have the advantage of not releasing harmful greenhouse gases (which contribute to global climate change) into the atmosphere. Although the nuclear power industry has emphasized this positive in hopes of labeling nuclear as an alternative energy, most environmentalists agree that nuclear energy is not actually an alternative energy. Why not? While it may cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear energy has some very seriously harmful environmental effects of its own. Not only does the mining of uranium cause radioactive contamination of the environment, there is also still no safe long-term solution to the disposal of the radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants. What’s more, there is always the danger of radioactive leaks or devastating power plant explosions, such as the 1979 explosion of the Three Mile Island Plant in the US or the 1986 Chernobyl explosion in the Ukraine.
Alternative Energy: Environmentally-Friendly Options
When it comes to alternative energy, it’s important to emphasize the fact that alternative energies are more eco-friendly than standard mainstream energy sources.
This doesn’t mean that alternative energy sources do not have any negative impact, however. For example the building of hydroelectric dams can have damage natural habitats, while biofuels have caused controversy due to the fact that plants for biofuel are often grown using a great deal of fertilizers and pesticides, which are manufactured using oil. Another interesting negative side-effect of biofuel production is that the manufacturing of plants like corn for fuel has become competitive with the food-manufacturing, contributing to a rise in world food prices.
Despite the various controversial side effects they may have, such alternative energy sources remain less environmentally harmful than traditional energy sources such as coal, oil and natural gas, none of which are ever considered “alternative energy.”
Alternative Energy Job Titles
Thanks to the continually increasing demand for cleaner forms of alternative energy, advances in scientific research, and greater efforts by governments to implement alternative energy industries, demand in the job market is expected to grow in the coming years. Think you might be interested in an alternative energy career? There are plenty of options for all types of individuals, from hands-on work building wind farms to managerial positions overseeing hydroelectric dam construction. Check out these exciting jobs in alternative energy, and be sure to read through the rest of the jobs in Jobmonkey’s natural energy career guide: