Whenever a paradigm shift takes place, such as what is about to happen with our energy sector, certain professions rise to the forefront. Such is the case with the latest initiative to replace the present electrical grid with a newer, more efficient “smart grid.”
As a result of this shift, four professional groups are prominently positioned to help revolutionize the grid shift.
These professionals will likely lead the initiatives to provide more efficient, cleaner and greener electrical systems. Adding computer technology and communication systems to our electrical distribution grids requires armies of electrical engineers to devise grid systems that are as efficient as possible. Beyond a typical bachelor’s degree, electrical engineering master’s programs are available to those interested in working as an electrical engineer.
Today, many companies are already tackling the role in reducing neighboring communities of their carbon footprint by up to 64% in many cases. Furthermore, the demand for these professionals is high with no signs of abating anytime soon, especially with our escalating energy and pollution problems. Beyond developing cleaner energy technology, we can make huge strides in reducing pollution by increasing the efficiency of our grids.
Working alongside all the other mentioned professions, environmental engineers will leave their impact through new strategies implemented to upgrade and/or replace the present grid without impacting the environment in a negative way.
By helping communities, cities and construction companies transform into the new smart grid system, environmental engineers will contribute through their expertise in science and mathematics. With new construction projects or renovations having to conform to the new electrical system and its environmental regulatory requirements, this is one sector that looks promising.
Computer Science/IT Professionals
An estimated $338 billion to $476 billion is the bottom line to fully digitize the entire US grid. So far, a mere $8 billion has been invested and most of that amount went to computer science majors, computer science professionals and IT professionals.
System analysts and developers, electrical computer engineers and even IT professionals adept in using social media to get the word out are already employed in this effort. One ambitious project entails notifications to alert utility customers using the Web and social media. All data, progress reports and estimates of power restoration become immediately available to the public as everything ties into the new smart grid via computers.
The associated costs with such a huge undertaking staggers the mind. Likewise, a platform arises for possible litigation, bankruptcy filings and regulatory disputes requiring legal representation. Legal firms, legal assistants and other legally-related professionals will be called on at an unprecedented level to handle the needs of individuals, communities, governments and private enterprise.
According to a recent survey by Edison Electric Institute, only 45% of the respondents even knew what a smart grid was. Even so, 33.5 million smart meters are already installed with full national coverage expected by the year 2020. While switching from the present electrical grid to a modern, smart grid is not an easy chore, for certain professional groups the trade-off will be well worth the effort.