Transition to Sustainable Electronics - How Electronic Technicians Have Diversified
The role of the electronic technician has drastically changed over the years. In fact, electronics technicians have helped to develop and maintain everything from the earliest home electronics up to and including the latest military radio, communication, and surveillance equipment. In short, the role of the electronic technician is one that is constantly shifting to accommodate new and emerging technologies. But what happens when an ideology, like sustainability, gets thrown into the mix? As more electronic equipment is built and used in sustainable equipment, how effectively has the modern electronics technician diversified their role?
Whether it’s working with solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, or other energy-efficient devices, electronic technicians are increasingly recruited to work eco-friendly, sustainable systems. This article will discuss the role of the electronic technician in the modern, environmentally conscious world.
Solar Energy Technicians
As politicized as the topic has become, the fact remains that failing to divert investment away from fossil fuels in favor of alternative forms of clean, renewable energy is not a sound, long-term strategy. Fortunately, most industrialized countries recognize this and as such, have made a commitment to building the infrastructure necessary to support energy alternatives like solar. That of course means that technicians will be required to install and service these systems on a growing scale. These technicians are referred to as solar energy technicians.
While the specific duties performed by solar energy technicians will vary from one company to the next, these technicians should all have a firm grasp on the regulations – both local and federal – governing solar energy as well as the National Electric Code (US), or the Canadian Electrical Code (or other standardized code based in the country of residence). In addition to possessing this knowledge, solar energy technicians must complete many of the same tasks performed by electrical technicians including, but not limited to, reading blueprints and wiring/control diagrams ahead of new construction projects, and mapping, testing, and troubleshooting electrical systems. As it pertains to solar energy, solar energy technicians must also be adept at installing both commercial and residential solar paneling and perform the routine servicing and maintenance of photovoltaic equipment.
Not to put too fine a point on just how important access to solar energy will become, fossil fuels currently account for nearly 80% of the world’s energy use. As oil and gas reserves are depleted, solar and other renewable energy sources will inevitably fill the void left by fossil fuels. In a push to achieve 100% green energy by 2035, the United States alone plans to create 10 million jobs in green technologies. And while there are many ancillary industries that will undoubtedly benefit from this investment, you can rest assured that many of the jobs created will be in the solar energy space, which includes solar energy technicians.
As we learn more about the impact of vehicle emissions on the environment, more people are choosing to buy electric cars. Businesses are also starting to make the transition, by making sure their fleets of vans and trucks are either hybrid or pure electric. Many countries will no longer permit the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in just a few short years.
EV technicians do possess many of the same skillsets as mechanics (they do after all, perform routine maintenance on electric vehicles), but they also need a solid background in electrical system installation and maintenance with a focus on the relationship between vehicle systems and the lithium-ion batteries that power them. The technologies that make electric vehicles possible is evolving at an exponential rate, which can admittedly be a challenge to EV technicians (new batteries and systems are continually being developed to push the current boundaries of range and performance), but that challenge also means that EV technicians get to work at the forefront of this exciting industry.
Speaking of the growing consumer and business appetite for electric vehicles, the number of charging stations is also booming. Like the EV technicians that will be required to work on the vehicles themselves, there will be a significant need for certified EV supply equipment technicians to install and service the many, many public charging stations that will be needed.
Like solar, wind energy will be one of the renewable energy sources that will be leveraged to fill the gap left by fossil fuels. While wind turbines are massive in size, the wind technician’s attention will be focused mostly on maintaining the generating components located in the nacelle.
Being a wind technician is not for the faint of heart nor is it for those who have a disdain for adventure; wind technicians must climb the turbine’s significant height on the daily to perform routine checks of the mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical equipment. At the nacelle, turbine equipment is inspected, repaired, and replaced as necessary. Wind technicians will also collect turbine data that will be used for research and analysis purposes. Fortunately, not all of the wind technician’s duties must be performed at elevation, as they are also required to service the buried transmission systems and ground level substations associated with the wind turbine. As with the other technician types we’ve discussed there is significant growth expected in this field, as employment opportunities are expected to grow nearly 50% between 2022 and 2032, or an average of 1,800 wind technicians openings annually.
Electronics Technicians Facing Paradigm Shift
While the role of the electronics technician is changing, one could argue that it is only changing for the better. By diversifying their skills to include more eco-friendly and sustainable systems, electronics technicians are effectively positioning their trade to be one that will grow with the technologies currently being developed.
Though the field of electronics technicians is certainly broad, very few other career paths offer the variability and security enjoyed by electronics technicians. If you would like to learn more about the many electronics technician opportunities that you can be trained for, reach out to George Brown College today.