With pollution and climate change taking center stage in global concerns and even treaty negotiations, every industrialized nation has sought alternative energy sources that contribute to green initiatives by reducing or eliminating emissions and other forms of pollution.
Solar power has seen significant growth and popularity for generating electrical power with zero negative impact on the environment in day-to-day operations.
Harnessing the Sun’s Power for Energy
There are two main methods of transforming the sun’s energy into electrical power:
Solar panels utilize photovoltaic cells to transform the sun’s rays into electricity directly. Sun hitting the surface of silicon within the panels creates a movement of electrons, generating electricity. When multiple cells are connected, enough electricity can be generated to power lights, appliances, homes, or even entire factories.
Solar turbines produce electricity powered by steam, which is generated by heating water from concentrating heat from the sun. Solar panel collectors in large numbers transfer heat to the concentrator, resulting in high temperatures that transform the water into steam, powering the turbines in a solar power plant.
Depending on the total array of panels and turbines in the plant, energy levels generated may range from a few kilowatts up to multiple megawatts.
Solar Turbine Use
Solar turbine power plants have been placed in service in both the US and international locations. This technology now produces significant power resources in such locations as:
- Located in the Mojave Desert in California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric plant was the world’s largest plant of its kind when it opened in 2014. The facility includes three solar power towers with thousands of mirrors focusing on the towers to generate heat for power generation. It can generate an impressive 392 megawatts (MW) of power.
- Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) located in southern San Bernardino County, CA consists of three separate segments that combine to produce 354 MW of renewable solar energy.
- Located in South Africa in the Northern Cape region, Khi Solar One (KSO) produces 50 MW. KSO is the first solar tower plant in Africa, operating purely as a solar energy plant.
Solar Turbine Careers
As one of the fastest-growing alternative sources of power, solar energy and solar-related careers are in high demand, with promising futures and excellent salary potential.
Careers in solar energy and solar turbines are not gender-limited positions. In fact, Grid Alternatives Colorado (GRID) and Solar Energy International (SEI) recently joined forces to develop and lead training programs that prepare women for careers in the technical field of solar energy.
Businesses and consumers alike are becoming more enlightened regarding the benefits of solar energy:
- Save operating costs and reliance on the utility company for power
- Reduce carbon footprint through the use of zero-emission solar panels or power generated by solar turbines
- Incentives, rebates, and grants available from some government agencies to defray the initial cost of equipment and installation
- Potential increase in property value
- Businesses can promote goodwill and improve image by publicizing green initiatives
This growth potential increases the demand for trained and certified technicians and installers for the solar energy field. SEI provides a contact board for careers available to qualified individuals in many aspects of the solar energy field:
- Sales consultants – knowledgeable in solar technology and options
- Installers – new installations and repairs
- Team leaders
- Assemblers – engaged in production of solar turbines
- Project managers – site planning and installation
- Project consultants
- Engineers and design technicians
- Operators at solar turbine power plants
Companies highly invested in the solar power industry such as Solar Turbines in San Diego offer career opportunities not only locally but also internationally. Locations as diverse as Australia, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and many others are open for qualified, trained personnel. Other businesses offering positions in solar jobs include:
Solar USA – offering consulting advice and solar energy solutions for residential and commercial use
Turbines Inc. – a provider of turbines and associated equipment for multiple industries, including power generation
NRG – one of the nation’s largest solution providers of renewable energy for residential and business applications
Many businesses that specialize in solar turbines and solar power also offer training programs for sales and installation positions, even including the potential for certification in the industry.
Solar energy is a highly specialized industry, requiring in-depth knowledge of equipment options, installation techniques, maintenance, and an understanding of local zoning and any other applicable restrictions.
Consulting with experienced professionals such as Solar Power San Diego can streamline the process and help homeowners and businesses make the right decision when investing in solar energy.
As a relatively new and evolving technology, turning your investment in renewable energy over to an inexperienced installer or salesperson can be a costly mistake. Consultants or advisors who do not have a formal relationship with any particular vendor or technology will provide peace of mind in making the right selection of equipment, installers, and service after the sale. These consultants have no pre-conceived bias toward technology or providers, focusing on your actual energy needs.
Solar energy continues to lead the pack for potential green, renewable energy sources. As technology matures, prices will continue to drop, making the investment in solar power and solar turbine power plants even more attractive to consumers and businesses.
Careers in solar power offer long-term positions for an increasing number of candidates of every gender, race, and nationality, and will continue to provide global employment opportunities.