The Butler Scholarly Journal

Careers: A graduate scheme in renewable energy

By Luke Payne

It was long assumed by others (and for a time, me included) that I was destined for a career in the financial services. If you look at the two years I spent as Junior Common Room treasurer, the four years I spent mastering mathematics and the accountancy internship I did the summer after my third year at university, the evidence quickly stacks up. However, it was during said internship that I discovered I really wasn’t suited for the industry. Since I wasn’t interested in teaching I felt, as a future maths graduate, the options open to me were now incredibly limited. It was only then that I started to think deeply about what kind of career would be right for me.

I’ve always been an environmentalist, although I’ve not always labelled myself as such. Perhaps because, like feminism, environmentalism conjures a variety of definitions to different people. For me, being an environmentalist means I put a high value on the sustainable generation, use and disposal of the resources we demand as a species. An important part of this belief is for the measure of such sustainability to be evaluated by scientists rather than politicians or industries.

I suppose, such a belief for me has always had a logical basis; I don’t hold the view that my generation’s existence is any more important than any of the (hopefully) many generations to come and as such, I believe we should leave behind a world that should be in as-good or an improved condition than the one left to us by the last.

My fascination with climate change and renewable energy is likely an inevitable result of holding such beliefs. For some time now, I’ve been keeping up-to-date on any media coverage regarding climate change and developments in the energy industry. It is curious, looking back, why it did not occur to me before that I’d find working in the energy industry fascinating. However, once I did, I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t believe I would get to work in renewable energy immediately, but with experience, perhaps I could one day. The idea was a powerful driving force.

In my search for graduate schemes in the energy industry, I found one specifically working in renewable energy for a company called Renewable Energy Systems (RES). Despite numerous other rejections, that was the one job application for which I got an offer. I was over-the-moon that day.
It is now a month since I started. RES is a renewable energy developer working across the globe to develop, construct and operate renewable energy projects. Most of their operations are in both offshore and onshore wind energy but they also have projects working on other renewable technologies.

I’ve been involved with many projects already. My first assignment was to help some gather information on different renewable technologies and their current status in Europe for some workshops on how to develop a business plan that can adapt to different future scenarios. My second was to compare growth forecast information for different renewable technologies for the yearly business plan. I recently liaised with different departments in RES to write and send a response to a government consultation on renewable technologies in the Scottish Islands. I’ve also been testing out a platform for evaluating new market opportunities and have even attended a conference on photovoltaic solar power.

I’ve found everything I’ve been involved with both challenging and very rewarding. When I’m researching, the information I find is often fascinating and I love analysing it. It’s incredible how open my colleagues are to entering intriguing discussions about their own opinions on everything from new technologies to government policies. It’s amazing to hear everyone’s views about how they think things in the industry will progress. I’ve also heard some great anecdotes about the past from those who’ve worked in the industry for some time. The graduates here are a great team; there’s nothing better than discussing how things have been going in our departments at the pub. There is truly a lot to learn and I very much enjoy every second of it.