Can RE Pay its Way?

With renewable energy companies, particularly in the solar and wind sectors, growing at double digit pace, there is a clear need to attract new talent to the industries. Indeed this is the prime reason we created Greenjobs as a place where those interested in working in renewables could find out about the types of jobs and job prospects as well as the different industries and the organizations populating them.

However, in the solar industry, and I suspect the other renewable sectors as well, there is a pervasive attitude that only enthusiasts work in the industry and they are happy to forgo competitive wages. In his excellent course on “Finding your dream job in Solar”, Andy Black actually advises candidates to anticipate lower wages than they can get elsewhere. He rationalizes the inevitability of the situation by the continued entry of new, cut-price entrants in to the marketplace forcing down margins. While this may reflect fairly what has gone before I do not see how it can continue.

As the sectors grow in size they will be less able to rely on enthusiast to fuel their continued growth. In order to attract the best talent, they will increasingly have to compete with other, mainstream industries and this will force them to make packages more competitive. Indeed if renewables become mainstream this is not only a possibility but an inevitability! How we bridge the gap remains to be seen but one thing I do believe is that renewable businesses and organizations will become increasingly focused on remuneration packages in order to be competitive and this will drive a need for more reliable information on what being “competitive” means. Reliable, cross industry statistics for renewables are hard to find and we hope to address the issue this year with the first annual North American survey of employment and remuneration across all RE sectors.

3 replies
  1. Peterbart
    Peterbart says:

    I agree with Peter's posting, but think the issue really is more general than just one of salaries. Maturity in the alternative energy field will be measured not by the number of MW that are produced, but by the ability of the industry to be competitive – prices, salaries, and more. At the moment, we have enthusiasts and curiosity seekers, plus a handful of sophisticates. This will likely remain the case as long as energy remains relatively inexpensive. But just wait until oil prices hit $100/barrel or more. Then alternative energy will be a rock rolling down hill… Pete r

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