Denver, CO, May 18, 2016- The renewable energy field is one that has begun to see tremendous growth in the last decade. Moving forward, it will only continue to grow as reliance on burning fossil fuels reduces. In the United States, Colorado is a solar energy hub due to its average 300 days of sunshine per year.
Andy Pendl, graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, has been a partner at Affordable Renewable Energy (ARE) Solar since 2009. With majors in public relations and organizational communications and a minor in environmental sciences, Pendl went into the IT field out of college. Upon the market collapse in 2009, he was forced to look for other work, and specifically targeted growth industries. He landed on solar 35% based of the environmental impact and 65% because it was (and still is) a growth industry.
A large reason why the solar energy industry is growing so fast is the technological advancements that are near that will allow energy created through solar panels to be stored and used later. In other words, solar energy can be turned into a baseload power, which would take a significant strain off the energy grid and result in far less fossil fuels being burned in order to power the needs of man.
Any energy is a very broad field, and with solar the barriers to entry vary by position and objective. If one wants to be designing newer and more efficient panels, or pioneer solar powered cars, then an engineering degree and internships will be necessary. However, new technology will always need to be marketed and sold.
Pendl has found success with ARE Solar, yet is not the one on the production or research and development side. As a small, local Colorado startup, ARE uses multiple panel manufacturers to give clients a wide range to choose from.
Learning the technical aspects of photovoltaic solar panels is one of the hardest barriers to entry mentioned by Pendl. ARE Solar believes that every employee should know the ins and outs of the products they are selling. While this can get complicated, like anything with practice and commitment, even the summer interns were able to pick up on the technical specs of solar PV systems offered by ARE.
Speaking of summer interns, and barriers to entry, with a media studies major and marketing and sustainability minors, I was personally able to secure a business development internship with ARE during the summer between my junior and senior years at The University of Denver.
As the co-founder and primary operator of a start-up business, Pendl works around the clock to ensure every aspect of his business runs smoothly. This means he answers the phone for new and existing customers, handles financial spreadsheets and is constantly in contact via email and phone/ text with his install team and salesmen.
“I wouldn’t say it’s tough per say,” Pendl said “but it is an around the clock, 24/7 job which can be strenuous at times.”
Pendl outsources business functions such as web design, content management and SEO to third party firms, which frees up his time to focus on bigger picture operations.
In terms of prospective industry workers, motivated, educated millennials have an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Even if it is doing something as simple running a company’s social media pages, there are jobs available in the renewable energy field. Once an entry level job is secured, the ball is in the employee’s court, in terms of how much they climb the ladder.
One interesting aspect regarding renewable energies is there are other fields that can translate into renewable energies. For example real estate developers, both commercial and residential, can get into the field if they are LEED certified, or potentially only work on LEED certified buildings. These types of projects lead to a familiarization with renewable energies, with solar at the forefront.
Overall the renewable energy field, and specifically the solar energy field are young and will continue to grow exponentially down the road. Because there are so many aspects of every business or industry, there are places for young job seekers to latch on and establish themselves as value creators for companies in whatever way they can.