Renewable energy refers to energy derived from resources that are renewable, such as wind, water, or solar sources. Renewable energy engineers play a vital role in delivering this energy to Americans, applying their insight and education to harness this renewable energy in a way that connects it to the power grid in the most efficient way possible, thus helping to reduce U.S. dependency on fossil fuels whose consumption contributes to global warming. Because renewable energy projects are high profile in this age of carbon credits and solar cars, the good news is that funding and internship opportunities in this sector abound, though the competition is likely to be stiff.
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The U.S. Trade and Development Agency aims to promote economic growth in developing and middle-income countries, at the same time as it helps American companies promote their services and products. Engineering design firms can bid on producing renewable energy systems and services abroad.
The World Bank also organises several grant and funding programs that require renewable energy engineering expertise.
The Department of Energy´s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program awards federal grants, publishing announcements on the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program web page. In addition, their Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs both set aside funds for competitions among small businesses. If you win a grant under one of these programs, you would keep the rights to any technology developed and would have a clear path forward for future commercialisation efforts. The DOE has specific opportunities for different categories, including biomass, solar energy technologies, wind and hydropower technologies, and hydrogen, fuel cell, and infrastructure technologies.
The California Energy Commission awards the Energy Innovations Small grant, in the range of £32,500 to £65,000. This grant supports early research on innovative energy ideas, and helps developers pay for the work to determine if the technology is both technologically and economically feasible. The grant only supports work in a few specific areas. The Commission also supports Development and Demonstration work by providing contracts and grants.
If you have basic engineering qualifications that would make you useful to a firm in the renewable energy sector, be assertive and hunt down a firm that could use some cheap or free labour. Do a web search for renewable energy companies in your area. Identify successful firms by searching the websites of grant-making organisations listed above and finding the names of renewable energy firms that have won grants in the past, then searching out the companies that are of interest and making contact. Contact professors at your university to ask if they have contacts or recommendations of firms to work for. Find university alumni who work in the energy sector by using career networking tools like Facebook or LinkedIn. Identify what you can contribute and what you´d like to learn, then pitch yourself with confidence and enthusiasm.
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