Nov 11, 2014

The Renewable Energy Sector is an Increasingly Strong Source of Employment for Veterans

Renewable Energy
Energy Policy
4 min
It’s Veteran’s Day here in the U.S. and though we love to celebrate our vets, the reality of how we treat our veterans is actually a lot...

It’s Veteran’s Day here in the U.S. and though we love to celebrate our vets, the reality of how we treat our veterans is actually a lot more complicated. Between high homelessness rates, prescription drug addiction, and the fiasco earlier this year involving wait times at the VA, the nation faces daunting challenges in better serving its vets.

Another source of difficulty for vets can be finding a stable, worthwhile job. Monster Worldwide, the parent company of and, put together a veterans talent index, detailing the skills of military service members entering the workforce. Though the report shows that the numbers are certainly better, all veterans–though particularly young veterans–are struggling to find work.

“Veterans’ top job search challenge remains the ability to communicate military skills in a way that employers can understand and utilize,” the report reads. “Two-thirds of surveyed veterans said that while they were prepared for their career transition out of the military and they felt hiring managers do not understand their skills and experience.”

One sector that is keen on veterans, however, is renewable energy. Renewables are currently experiencing a huge period of growth and vets have many of the necessary skills to tackle more technical jobs within the industry. It’s a case of understanding the skills vets possess and how best to utilize them in the modern workforce. It certainly helps that U.S. military is getting on board with renewable energy.

“The Department of Defense now has over 500 fixed installations worldwide, and projects have continued to grow ever since DOD opened 16 million acres of land for renewable energy development in 2012,” Michael Brower, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, writes for Huffington Post. “These installations require trained personnel to help manage and maintain its functions, making these individuals ‘ready-made’ for similar roles in the private sector.”

Companies such as Tipping Point Renewable Energy in Columbus, Ohio, is just one of the private sector renewable energy companies looking to hire vets. The company, which only hires veterans, actively seeks out people like Ben Nolan, who was an active duty Marine for eight years. Nolan was out of work for 18 months upon completing his service.

“I've probably put my resume in to 300 places in the past year,” he told "The farthest I've ever got was a phone interview."

While Tipping Point is a specific company that actively seeks out people like Nolan, there are also assistive programs specifically to helps veterans enter the renewable energy sector, such as the Denver-based Veterans Green Jobs–which has helped place 370 vets in the last four years–and Troops to Energy Jobs, a pilot program from five of the nation’s largest energy providers.

The government is also getting involved in the form of the INVEST (Incentives for our Nation’s Veterans in Energy Sustainability Technologies) Act, introduced by Representative Barbara Lee. The act does exactly as it says: it provides a tax incentive for renewable energy companies to hire veterans.

“It is a simple step that will have profoundly positive implications for creating good-paying jobs for veterans and developing a sustainable energy grid, improving energy efficiency and developing new technologies,” Lee said in a column for Huffington Post. “We should INVEST in our veterans, advanced technologies and our sustainable energy future. This legislation would achieve all three goals making it a win-win-win. During their service in our armed forces, our veterans gain expertise in advanced technologies, an expertise we can use in the civilian sector to build renewable energy infrastructure.”

As the renewable energy sector continues to grow, these kinds of programs and opportunities are becoming increasingly common, and really, it’s easy to see why, according to the U.S. Solar Institute.

“So here we have a large population of out-of-work but enthusiastic citizens, a certification course that you can complete in 40 hours, and an industry facing a labor gap,” they write. “All set against a backdrop of high unemployment and growing demand for solar installations. When you add all of this up, solar training for veterans really could make a world of difference.”

For the U.S. to bring its treatment of veterans to even acceptable levels, a “world of difference” is very much needed. Fortunately, the growth of the renewable energy sector is continuing to provide opportunities for employment and the much needed stability those returning from active duty so desperately need. 

Share article

Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

Share article