Studies & Degrees in Energy Sciences
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Energy Sciences is a discipline bringing together a number of academic fields, and is usually a program aimed at creative young individuals who wish to make a difference in the development of various energy sources. Energy and environmental conservation are issues, crucial to the sustainable development of human beings, so an Energy Sciences program would not simply focus on the development of energy technology, but also on economics, law, agriculture, and other related disciplines. Energy scientists are usually individuals, who strive to contribute to the transition towards sustainable energy systems by carrying out research, giving consultations, and providing strategy and policy advice. Such specialists are also trained in energy systems analysis and energy modeling. They are very well-acquainted with energy economics as well as energy and climate policies. Furthermore, energy sciences are closely related to natural sciences like chemistry and physics; examples are the fields of photovoltaic cells, thermodynamics, and the production of bio-based chemicals. On the other hand, they are also linked to biology and engineering; i.e., the use of biomass as a renewable energy source and energy conversion technologies. Finally, energy sciences are closely related to earth sciences, as they explore issues like resource scarcity, geothermal energy and effects of climate change.
To be involved in energy sciences you need to be a well-rounded individual with a variety of interests and talents. An aptitude for sciences definitely is a prerequisite for following such a degree, along with some other qualities you might wish to consider:
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Very good at research
- Creative and imaginative nature
- Interested in innovation and development
- Interested in technical work
- Able to accept responsibility
- Good at working individually and as a part of a team.
A degree in Energy Sciences is usually offered as a master’s degree or higher. It is normally aimed at students, who have a BSc degree in natural sciences (e.g. physics or chemistry), engineering (e.g. mechanical or electrical engineering), or programs with a sufficient science or engineering component, like environmental sciences or science and innovation. When embarking on such a program, the educational format that it offers is crucial. This means that you should be looking for a good balance between theory and the opportunity to observe real life examples and develop your ideas and talent. Group work, projects, and individual assignments all should have a practical orientation. Check opportunities for research, field work, and simulation games. Finally, make sure you will be given the chance to do an internship or a placement during your studies – this will not only enhance your knowledge, but it will also greatly improve your future career prospects.
The demand for energy sciences specialists is definitely growing, considering the fact that a lot of existing and new companies are taking up the challenge to develop new businesses in this area. Consequently, energy sciences graduates can seek employment in the private sector (e.g. Shell, Nuon, Essent, Eneco), or for consultancies. They might also continue with research at various universities, or start teaching the subject. Other opportunities are available in the public sector – for example, as a policy maker or policy advisor for a local, national or international (e.g. EU) government and as a campaigner in environmental organizations like Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).