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How Do I Become a Renewable Energy Engineer?

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  • Written By: Jan Fletcher
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Renewable energy engineers apply engineering solutions to generating energy from renewable sources. If you want to become a renewable energy engineer, you will almost certainly need to complete an undergraduate program in engineering science. Engineering programs that include specific courses in renewable energy technology are increasing in number over time, as interest grows in sustainable energy generation. Areas of focus in renewable energy engineering include power generation from solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, tidal, and biofuel sources. A degreed program specifically geared toward becoming a renewable energy engineer is also an option, as many universities offer such programs.

The engineering field already offers training within the profession geared toward specific engineering specialties. These include but are not limited to mechanical, thermodynamic, electrical, or hydraulic engineering. You will want to consider a preparation track that allows for course selections within your area of interest. For example, if you want to become a renewable energy engineer with a focus on geothermal engineering or solar power, then a course of study in thermodynamics and thermal radiation would be a good choice. For wind energy, an degreed engineer may have chosen to prepare by focusing on a course of study in aerodynamic engineering, or composite materials engineering.

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If you already have an engineering degree and you want to become a renewable energy engineer, certificate programs in sustainable engineering are available through professional engineering associations and some colleges and universities. Energy generation systems are dynamic and interact with the environment and society in myriad ways. You may discover an interdisciplinary aspect to your studies will better prepare you to become a renewable energy engineer.

Programs in energy sustainability are also offered in shorter versions through certificate programs. Whether you pursue a degree in engineering or a certificate through a program, some training in sustainable practices, including energy conservation, will likely be included in your course of study to become a renewable energy engineer. Measures that conserve energy, regardless of whether or not these measures were produced through renewable sources, are also part of renewable energy strategies.

An engineering firm retrofitting or renovating a building or plant may do an energy audit, and LEED certification may be part of this audit. Internationally recognized, LEED certification is something a renewable energy engineer will be expected to understand and implement. It is a rating system measuring a building's impact on ecosystems, as well as looking at what kind of materials were used, and what level of efficiency in energy and water usage has been achieved. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

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