CleanTech Guide

December 11th, 2009

9 Places to Find a Job in Renewable Energy

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I’ve been getting a lot of emails and questions about where to find jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building. There is no question there is a lot of opportunity out there. In renewable energy, the industry is mainly driven by state incentives so your opportunities are somewhat limited depending on how progressive your states incentives are. Green building and energy efficiency opportunities are less effected by incentives and thus tend to be everywhere.

I recently read a great post on Renewable Energy Word title “Competition for Renewable Energy Jobs Getting more Intense“. Stephan Lacey has some good points, but I don’t want you to be discouraged. The penetration of the renewable energy industry, particularity in solar and wind is almost NOTHING (see graph below). It is easy for a small industry to double ever couple of years, or triple like solar has been doing. Try to find a roof in your town with a solar system on it. Seriously, try, it will be hard.

Here are 9 great resources you can use to find companies in the clean energy industry.

Most of these companies are growing rapidly and looking for passionate employees and self starts that don’t need supervision. When approaching companies, keep in mind that the industry is very new and there are barely any ‘experts’ in renewable energy, 1 years of experience is A LOT. Just keep in mind, there’s no magic bullet, its the wild wild west out there, and don’t be intimated by not having experience because barely anyone does!

Solar Business Association of New England (SBANE)

This directory lists all of the solar PV and solar thermal installers in New England. If you are not located in New Englad, there are resource below that will help you. With this you can find names, briefs descriptions, websites, and contact information for all the companies installing solar systems. Some of the companies do other renewable energy work, typically installing wind systems or energy efficiency services.

Inc 500 Fast Growing Energy Companies

This lists all energy related companies in the USA, so you’ll have to do some work to find companies that are focusing on renewables. The name of the company should give you a good hint.

Find Solar.com Solar Panel Installers by region directory

Find Solar.com is a resource that is typically used by property owners to find a solar installer in their region. However, it can used be job seekers to find companies as well!

International Groudsource Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Professional Directory

IGSPHA is the industry association for the geothermal heat pump association. Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficiency heating and cooling system to operate bar none. In the directory they lists people that have passed the IGSPHA accredited installer training. The directory lists their names, phone, email, and most importantly company information.

NABCEP Certified Installers Directory

NABCEP certification is the de-facto industry standard that certifies expert solar PV and solar thermal system installers. If you’re unfamiliar with the difference, see the Renewable Energy Clean Tech Guide 101 here.

These are personal emails that are listed, so be polite! Most of the time people are very willing to talk about their experiences but don’t be rude.

BPI Accredited Professionals Directory

BPI stands for Building Performance Institute. BPI offers training and certification for contractors doing energy efficiency work. If you are interested in the energy efficiency of buildings, this is the perfect place to find professionals and companies that are doing this type of work.

USGBC Chapter Locator

The best place to connect with green building professionals is through your local chapters. Use this website to find your local chapters. Local chapters typically have tons of resources, events, and other ways for building professionals to connect with each other.

Renewable Energy World Job Board

This is one of the most extensive job boards I’ve seen. I’ve never applied for a job through the site. However, I have used it to get a good idea of the companies involved in renewable energy and then contact them through other means.

Clean Techies Job Board

Another great job board with highly targeted job placements. I’ve noticed that some of their posting are not in the renewable energy industry but most are. They have a whole range of postings, from executive to entry level positions.

Strategies

Find between five and ten companies that you want to approach, be relentless but polite. Do not feel bad being persistent, most people will appreciate it (because they are so busy) and it shows you are really interested in the position.

Here are a couple simple strategies that I have found useful once I find a company I’m very interested in.

  1. Do not ask for a job, or say that you are looking for a job. This is like walking up to a stranger and asking them to be your girlfriend or boyfriend. It doesn’t work and its too fast which makes it awkward.
  2. Say you that you are doing research and would like to learn more about their company. In reality, this is exactly what you do want to do in order to see if its a good fit or not. If you’re contacting a specific person, say that you’ve done a lot of research about the company (because you have) but that you want to learn about it from a first-hand perspective. Use this time to see what the company is working on and where they need help.
  3. Use LinkedIn to see if you know someone from that company. If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, you need to. Probably you know someone who knows someone and they might be able to make a connection for you, if you ask them.
  4. If you’re interested in working in sales or business development, find potential customers for the company you are looking for and then contact them saying you have a couple customers for them and want to work for them. Companies want to know you’re focused on making them money. This tactic will set you apart from the rest of the crowd.
  5. Start a personal blog and use the interview approach to get your foot in the door. Having a blog gives you a press pass and makes it much easier to connect with people inside of a company.

Were these resources helpful for you?

November 14th, 2009

Clean Tech Guide 101 – Renewable Energy Part 2: Top Industry Reading

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The first part of the Clean Tech Guide 101 to Renewable Energy focused on providing resources that you can use to learn about each technology. This is the critical first step. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here is the link: Clean Tech Guide 101 – Renewable Energy Part 1: Top 20 Resources to Learn about the Technologies.

The second part of the series is focused on reading materials that you can use to leverage you understanding of the technologies to get a better understanding of the different industry, markets, and what separate companies are doing.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to share the resources that I have gathered and used to learn about clean technology industry with other people that are interested in learning about the industry to use as a starting place.

Who is the guide for?

Recent graduates, career changers, or entrepreneurs who have little to no knowledge about clean technology but are looking for a some direction to learn about the industry.

What the purpose?

The goal will be to provide you with basic resources that you can use to begin learn about and get involved in the clean technology industry. I can only provide you with the resources that will help you, if you really want to get involved you’ll have to do most of the work, but I think this will be really helpful to start.

Clean technology has a very broad definition, but I am focusing the Clean Tech Guide 101 on FOUR sections that I find the most interesting

  1. Renewable Energy
  2. Resource Efficiency
  3. Green Building
  4. Food

Outline of Each Section

  1. Understanding the principles and/or technology
  2. Reading materials
  3. Where to meet people
  4. How to find your niche

Clean Tech Guide 101 Renewable Energy Part 2: Read! Here’s where to start

Now that you understand the basics of each technology you NEED to understand what’s happening in the industry, the companies involved in the market, the policies that are driving the industry, and what people are talking about.

This will help you to 1) see the opportunities to work or start a company and 2) impress people when you talk to them, which is critical to establishing relationships in the industry. One of the best ways I’ve noticed to get people’s attention is to ask their opinion on current events. This not only flatters them, but if you have a good question, it makes you look smart as well. For example, if I meet someone at a conference or event who works in the solar industry, I will ask them how they think Sun Run’s financing programs will face any substantial hurdles trying to increase the adoption rate of solar with financing, or if they think feed-in tariffs will be more effective then tax credits.

You get the idea. Asking good questions will make you look smart and start a good converstion that can lead to a job. The only way to get this information is to read, a lot.

Here are some top resources to learn about renewable energy and each specific technology

The Business Side of Renewable Energy

  • Renewable Energy World: The worlds largest renewable energy network and a clearing house of renewable energy news, information, events, and job. You name it, they have at least a little of it. If you only have time to go to one resource, this is the one you want. They have really great podcasts that you can subscribe to through iTunes.
  • Clean Techies: Clean Techniques is a relatively new organization that focuses on clean technology namely from a business perspective. They provide valuable articles through their blog and also have a sizable and growing job board. I would suggest signing up for their newsletter.
  • Green Biz: Green Biz is a daily site that focuses on ‘green’ and environmental news for mainstream business. Green Biz reports on how the environmental movement is and will impact ‘normal’ mainstream business. They have a great selection of newsletter that are focused on very specific elements of business operations such as computing, business, news, and design. Sign up for one their newsletters here.
  • Green Tech Media: Green tech media is a relatively new organization that I recently found out about. They have a lot of information, almost too much. I enjoy their research and the free webcasts they have with industry leaders. Again, they have information on all major sectors of the renewable energy industry with a focus on news, research, and industry events.

Government and Policy

Small Wind

Small Hydro

  • Small and Micro Hydropower: One of the few resources online dedicated to small hydro. Their website has some good technical information on small hydro
  • Dorado Vista: This organization has some good small hydro information. If you look on the right side of the home page they have a good ‘small hydro power guide’ you can download.

Solar Photovoltaic Power/Solar Thermal: These technologies are typically grouped together even though the technology is fundamental different.

  • The American Solar Energy Society (ASES): Established in 1954 (imagine that!) is the nations leading association of industry professionals. ASES sponsors the National Solar Tour which is a national solar event. They are also involved in policy, publish Solar Today, and hold a national confernece
  • Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA): SEIA represents the solar energy industries and is involved in policy, research, and also has a membership program.
  • The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC): IREC is a non-profit organization, supports market-oriented services targeted at education, coordination, procurement, the adoption and implementation of uniform guidelines and standards, workforce development, and consumer protection. IREC provides accreditation and certification for solar training organizations.
  • Solar Market Trends Report 2008: Published by IREC. One of the best industry reports published that covers both the solar PV and solar thermal industries.
  • Home Power: Is one of the leading renewable energy magazines. If you’re serious and want to keep abreast of the technical and business aspects of solar home power if a valuable resource.
  • Solar Pro: Is a solar magazine that is focused on the technical side of solar energy: design, installation, and performance. If you are going to be designing or installing solar get this.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

  • Gethermal Heat Pump Consortium: Is one of the few places where you can find events, and other information. They have a depth of case studies, product information, vendor contacts and contractor references available.

I hope you enjoy the guide and find it useful.

Feedback

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What type of information would be more helpful?

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October 21st, 2009

Clean Tech Guide 101 – Renewable Energy Part 1: Top 20 Resources to Learn about the Technologies

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So, you want to work in clean tech but don’t know where to start? I found myself in the same place 2 years ago. Welcome to the first part of the Clean Tech Guide 101, it will be perfect for you. I decided to create the guide after being asked similar questions from friends, recent graduates, fellow entrepreneurs about clean technology. I love to help people and noticed that my answers were typically similar, so I thought it would be useful to create a guide to refer people to.

The guide comes from my experience entering the clean technology industry and the steps I took from being simply interested to being knowledgeable enough to provide value to the industry.

Who is the guide for?

Recent graduates, career changers, or entrepreneurs who have little to no knowledge about clean technology but are looking for some direction to learn about the industry.

What’s the purpose?

The goal will be to provide you with basic resources that you can use to begin to learn about and get involved in the clean technology industry. I can only provide you with the resources that will help you, if you really want to get involved you’ll have to do most of the work, but I think this information will be a really helpful start.

The 4 Parts of the Clean Tech Guide:

Clean technology has a very broad definition, but the clean tech guide will focus on four areas:

  1. Renewable Energy
  2. Resource Efficiency
  3. Green Building
  4. Food

Outline of Each Section

  1. Understanding the principles and/or technology
  2. Reading materials
  3. Where to meet people
  4. How to find your niche

Section 1: Renewable Energy

Step 1: Understand the technology

Renewable Energy is defined as energy generated from resources that are naturally replenished.

The most important element to entering renewable energy is being able to understand and speak about the basics principles, technologies, and buzz words in the industry. So you will be able to read industry information, go to conferences, and talk with people intelligently. If you find yourself in a conversation about renewable energy, you’ll be better off if you know what REGGI, RECs, DG, and other random acronyms mean.

Renewable Energy is fundamentally divided into utility scale and distributed generation projects, known as DG. When you think of utility scale projects these are large plants, such as coal and nuclear. These type of plants are less common with renewable sources (with the exception of hydroelectric) due to transmission loss (the loss of energy needed to transmit the energy from point to point) but there are some applications of utility scale solar and wind projects. Distributed generation refers to smaller, more local power generation where the power is produced very close to where it will be consumed, i.e. a solar system on a house.

The main distributed generation renewable energy applications include:

Small Wind:

Skystream1

Small Hydro

Small_Hydro_Station

  • Small Hydro is sometimes called micro hydro or pico hydro. Small hydro is the use of hydroelectric power for a community of residents or business users with capacity up to 10 megawatts.
  • Small Hyro: As always, Wikipedia has some great information!
  • Dorado Vista: One of the few places I’ve found to get information specifically on small hydro.

Solar Photovoltaic Power (PV)

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  • Solar Photovoltaic Power (PV) is almost always referred to as “PV”. It uses the sun to excite electrons, excited electrons then create electricity. It’s a little more complicated but thats the general jist.
  • How Solar Cells Work: A great article by ‘How Stuff Works’. A must read description of how solar cells work written in plain english.
  • Solar Consumer’s Guide: A free guide published by the Department of Energy, a great document that discusses all of solar’s basics.
  • Solar Basics: Free information solar basics published from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Solar Electricity Basics Free Webinar: Great 45 minute free webinar on basics of solar photovoltaic energy. Very organized, spoken in common language.

Solar Thermal/Domestic Hot water

active_closed_loop_solar_wa

  • Solar thermal technology uses the sun to heat water. The hot water can be used for pool heating, heating domestic hot water, or providing heat for a residential or commercial building.
  • Solar Hot Water Basics: Some great resources provided by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • Solar Water Heaters: Resources U.S Department of Energy. Good introduction into the types of systems, collectors, and application. It also provides great addition resources.
  • Solar Water Heating Basics Free Webinar: Great 45 mintue free webinar on the basics of solar thermal technology. If you have a couple minutes, check this out.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

geothermal_heat_pump

  • Geothermal heat pumps are the cheapest heating and cooling systems to operate. They use the more constant temperature of the ground as a heating or cooling source instead of using outside air temperatures. The larger temperature difference allows geothermal systems to reach 300% to 600% efficiency. A heat pump is a mechanical device that is used to move heat, a heat pump is used in a refrigerator.
  • Geothermal Basics: Published from the US Department of Energy
  • Geothermal Reference Guide: Packed with information on goethermal heat pumps, tehcnology, installation, costs, manufacture details, and other resources.
  • Geothermal Survival Kit: Published by HeatSpring Learning Institute. It’s a great reference that goes over many geothermal basics, system types, costs, design considerations.

Feedback

Did you find the resources helpful?

What other questions do you have about renewable energy technologies that weren’t answered? Please let me know and I’m sure I can find something to help you.