Energy Education Needs for the Future

May 15th, 2015

Planning and developing energy for the future will demand greater emphasis on education. Innovation will continue to be major driver as new energy sources, increases in efficiency and different approaches for managing energy are pursued and developed. Research will also contribute toward the development of new approaches as energy exploration, discovery and implementation begin to take root in forms. The training and education needs for a 21st century energy sector will be diverse and expanded, venturing into places that we have not been traditionally associated with energy.

The writing is on the wall and most of us can decipher that energy is emerging as a primary sector with changing economic times and social patterns for consumers. While it is anticipated that energy use is going to continue to grow as the population expands, the sources of energy and how consumers will be managing their personal energy consumption is changing. It is difficult to see large, if any, drop in overall energy demand. A more likely scenario is expected to pursue alternative forms of energy in addition to oil, coal and gas. Wind, solar, bioenergy as well as wave and tidal sources are growing in use. Many people expect nuclear energy will also be a major contributor to overall worldwide energy supply.

Research is not new to the energy industry. Large financial investments have always been present in exploration, chemical and infrastructure areas. But interest and demand is growing on the consumption side of the equation as organisations begin to see that more energy efficient infrastructure, processes and goods can contribute significant energy savings. To achieve these goals requires investments in education.

Innovation and research are tightly linked to education. There is no mystery that some of the most productive products and services in the world are developed through a well-educated and highly motivated workforce that understands how energy is found, developed and created, as well as how it is consumed.

Bioenergy, for example, is dependent upon a workforce that understands how climate factors link to the growth and development of suitable energy crops and cropping systems, then how energy can be extracted from these biological resources, used to produce energy and transported for consumption. In practice this requires a trained and educated workforce that is multi-discplinary and capable of understanidng system processes that re-cycle and re-occur over and over again.

The entire carbon trade debate rests on the idea that landscape areas and the processes originating from them, can be managed and understood through the linkage of economic models to energy producing sources over space and time. As has been menioned previously in this column, the scale at which these processes arise and how these models are integrated into the wider trading systems upon which they rest, can and will likely mean that a workforce in one part of the world must balance operations and processes against other geographical areas around the globe. Suddenly these trading spaces have moved from localised spreadsheets to international tally’s of a more holistic nature.

From the agricultural field to the tiidal buoy crossing international boundaries, the demands for more brainpower and understanding are in high demand and growing. The computing tools that connect people, for exmaple, are no longer sourced and sharing information within and between organisations from the top, but more closely to the bottom where consumers and businesses inter-connect. Customers and consumers are now empowered with the tools to communicate and socialize across all dimensions of an organisation.

It is an exciting time to be in the energy industry because it is being reshaped and adjusted upon new models of operation. Although investors may remain wary in the financial markets, the technology sides of energy are continuing to explore, expand and are growing new knowledge and awareness as these new dynamics take root.

These changes can be found from the designers of new buildings and infrastructure for energy purposes to understanidng how changing populations are using energy and even producing it. Change will continue and new energy models will continue to develop. The focus is upon energy today and new talent with creative knowledge will support the changes ahead.