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Energy & Utilities: Sector Overview

a guide to energy and utilities careers

Energy & Utilities

Sector Overview

What jobs are available and how to get them

Renewable Energy Trends

  • The IEA World Energy Outlook 2013 predicts that global energy demand will increase by one-third by 2035
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that renewables will make up nearly 50% of the increase in global power production until 2035, with wind and solar making up 45% of that growth
  • In Europe there is a growing movement towards renewable energy and distributed power generation
  • Distributed power means electricity generated from many small energy resources, rather than relying on large centralised facilities
  • Subsidies for renewable energy are pushing up costs to consumers


Facts & Figures

  • The Power & Energy Industry contributes nearly 5% of the UK's GDP
  • In 2012 the production of gas and oil boosted the balance of payments by £32billion
  • The energy production and utilities sector employed 473,000 people in 2012


What's the Fracking Deal?

  • Fracking involves the hydraulic fracturing of wells to release shale gas reserves
  • There are enough reserves in the Midlands/North of England to supply shale gas for over 40 years (at today's consumption rates) 
  • According to the 13th PwC Annual Global Power & Utilities Survey (2013), the advent of shale gas is changing the economics of the energy landscape, especially in the Americas
  • So far there is not much known about its potential effect on underground or surface water in the UK
  • There is the possibility of contamination and well fractures, which could endanger wildlife and the water environment
  • Environmentalists complain about a lack of regulation
  • The UK Government is keen to encourage fracking for shale gas as a commercial enterprise


Energy Sector Overview

  • Security of energy supply and moving towards a low carbon economy will be central to how the UK's energy mix develops
  • While global companies dominate the sector, there are a growing number of smaller independent operators, contractors, suppliers and associated service businesses. Energy has the lowest ratio of closures to start-ups of any sector
  • According to Energy & Utility Skills, the power sector will need to employ 35,000 more people by 2024
  • Power utility companies may need to become cleverer with tariffs and emulate mobile phone companies with bundles and free allowances

Oil and Gas Overview

  • Oil and gas from the UK Continental shelf (UKCS) currently supplies two-thirds of the UK's energy demands
  • Technological advances are allowing harder to reach reserves to be mined, but greater investment is required for this
  • Factors influencing further developments of the UKCS include oil price, taxation, Government energy policy and further regualtory burdens
  • Keeping costs down while maintaining high levels of health and safety is key
  • Decommissioning has started, but will have a greater impact after 2017. A new service sector is developing to facilitate this

More at the HSE's Offshore and Gas Sector Strategy 2012-2015

Job Roles and Opportunities

  • There are many engineering roles in the energy & utilities industry, including automotive, electrical and mechanical
  • Like any other major industry there will also be business/commercial positions. This might include finance, contracts, HR, IT, logistics & procurement, sales & marketing
  • There could also be science-related roles in chemistry or environmental science

Waste & Recycling Overview

  • The industry has seen rapid growth in the last 10 years
  • Employment is split 50:50 between the public and private sectors
  • There are up to 6000 SMEs, some under contract to larger private organisations or local authorities
  • Growth is expected to continue and there are new/emerging technologies to meet environmental and recycling targets

More at the HSE's Waste and Recycling Sector Strategy 2012-2015

Nuclear Overview

  • Europe is split on its approach to nuclear fuel. Those strongly against it include Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium. France, the UK, Finland and Sweden are all committed to nuclear, while Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic are pushing ahead with their own plans
  • In 2013 the UK Government and EDF Energy announced the construction of two new reactors at Hinckley Point in Somerset. This will cost £16 billion and 30-40% funding will come from the China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Corporation
  • This highlights the globalised nature of the nuclear industry as well as the prohibitive costs of new builds
  • Nuclear plant life extensions represent a bigger market over the next 20 years than new build
  • Globally, nuclear contribution to global electricity fell from 17% in the 1990s to 10% in 2013. This may continue to fall as investment goes into fossil fuels and renewable energy projects
  • In Europe, the push towards lower carbon outputs (and the inability of renewable energy to produce on a large scale) means that nuclear energy will remain an important part of the energy mix for the forseeable future

Alumni Careers Network

Use our Alumni Careers Network to find Sussex graduates working in areas you are interested in. Find out more about what working in that sector is really like, get direct advice and find out if it's right for you!