Jobs in Renewable Energy Power Generation

by Felicia Bechtoldt

April 16, 2019

Worldwide renewable energy electricity production represented 10.4 percent of the global energy consumption in 2016 according to a report from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, a policy institute. The largest share of renewable energy consumption comes from biomass, solar, and geothermal heat, accounting for 4.1 percent. Hydropower accounts for 3.7 percent.

The renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs worldwide in 2017, employing in total more than 10 million according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization and an observer to the United Nations. This figure includes both direct and indirect jobs related to renewable energy, such as power plant operations, equipment manufacturing (solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewable energy technologies), installation, and construction jobs.

In the U.S., renewables provided 13 percent of the energy generated in 2017 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In Oregon, three-fourths of the net electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants and other renewable energy resources. Oregon is among the top three hydroelectric power producers in the U.S., accounting for more than 12% of U.S. hydroelectric generation in 2017.

In 2018, there were more than 1,800 jobs in the renewable energy power generation production in Oregon. This includes establishments that are primarily engaged in operating hydropower, geothermal, biomass, wind, and other electric power generation facilities. It excludes establishments that build renewable energy power facilities, and manufacture and install renewable energy technologies.
Nearly two out of three jobs in renewables were in the government, the majority being in the Bonneville Power Administration. Oregon’s hydropower facilities provided three-quarters of the jobs (1,403). Solar, wind, and geothermal electric power generation provided 333 jobs. Biomass electric power generation had 87 jobs and other electric power generation, which includes recycling farm and food waste into electricity had 7 jobs.

The average wage in the sector was $105,028 in 2018. Common jobs in the renewable energy sector include power plant operators; electrical power-line installers and repairers; power distributors and dispatchers; electricians; electrical engineers; environmental engineers, scientists, and technicians; maintenance and repair workers; wind turbine service technicians; and solar photovoltaic installers.
In Oregon, these occupations have hourly median wages that range from $18.23 for general maintenance and repair workers to $45.83 for power distributors and dispatchers. Nearly all of these occupations have a median hourly wage higher than the statewide median wage of $19.09 per hour.

In addition to engineering; production; and installation, maintenance, and repair occupations there are many other jobs that workers can choose from – office work, to architects, to accountants, to lawyers. Workers of all levels of experience and education can work in the renewable energy power generation.  

To learn more about these and other occupations in the renewable energy sector, explore our Occupational Profile tool and read our latest article “Careers in Solar Power Manufacturing and Installation.


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