What’s it All About?
The Energy and Utilities sector impacts our lives in so many ways. We depend on the production of energy to power our phones and electrical devices, we rely on a supply of petrol to drive our cars, we need oil or gas to heat our homes. Where would we be without these daily activities that we take for granted? The energy and utilities sector ensures that we are provided with the services to literally power our modern day lifestyle. We are indebted to the workers in this industry to ensure that we can cook a dinner, take a hot shower, watch the TV or surf the internet, we are even dependent upon this sector to flush the toilet!!!
The business of exploring oil and gas fields, extracting natural resources and refining them so they can be used as energy sources is one of the biggest industries in the world. This sector attracts a lot of attention and wealth, conflict, and controversy. The impact on the environment is one of the greatest concerns and obstacles for this sector.
With an increased awareness and concern for the environment, this sector has had to be innovative and adapt to make activities more environmentally friendly. Engineers play an important role within this sector: think gas engineer, energy engineer, environmental engineer, marine engineer and petroleum engineer. Environmental scientists and geologists are also key players in this sector. Energy is big business these days, so companies need to have an effective sales strategy. Customer service and sales representatives are needed in this industry to compete for business.
Energy and Utilities in Ireland
Gas: There have been four commercial natural gas discoveries in Ireland since exploration began offshore Ireland in the 1970s – namely Kinsale Head, Ballycotton and Seven Heads all off the coast of Cork. The fourth site, the Corrib gas field, was discovered off the coast of Mayo.
Oil: To date no oil reserves have been found in Ireland.
Wind Energy: Ireland has one of the best wind energy resources in Europe and has installed wind turbines of 1,000MW in capacity with a further 3,700MW of applications due to connect to the grid.
Ocean Energy: With the highest wave energy resource in Europe, Ireland has an estimated generation capacity of 60GW (one fifth of Europe’s total resource).
Solar Energy: Clusters focused on the development of advanced skills in materials and device development, semi-conductor manufacture, Integrated Circuit (IC) design and processor technologies are driving development in Ireland. These clusters are jointly backed by major industrial heavyweights and several world-class university-based research centres.
As this is a broad field you could find yourself working in relative luxury in a modern office, or you could be outdoors on a wind turbine site, or even battling the wild Atlantic waves on an offshore site! Work sites in this industry have the potential to be very dangerous so safety policies need to be quite strict.
The majority of jobs in this sector are office based. If you do have the opportunity to work offshore you will typically be expected to work 12 hour days for two or three weeks at a time, so it means that you will have to spend a significant amount of time away from home. You will be offered time in lieu.
Skills and Knowledge
Geology: You will need a primary degree in a related field such as geology or physics. Geologists need to be observant to do initial surveys, and, based on findings, determine a plan of action for further investigation. They need to be physically fit as they may spend significant time out on site.
Engineering: Several different engineering experts are required for this sector: energy engineer, environment, marine, electrical among other. Engineers are problem solvers - they are rational thinkers and logical decision makers. The job demands good mathematical ability, creativity and innovation. Engineers usually work as part of a team, therefore requiring them to have good organisation and communication skills.