Renewable energy initiatives are in the news everyday, and few things have caused such a change in industry ideas and practices in recent years. Last year Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the 1880s, in what the National Grid called a “watershed” moment. Last week the City of California and social media giants Facebook made long term commitments to Renewable Energy, with California committing to be 100% renewable energy by 2045 and Facebook pledging to only use wind and solar energy by 2020. Today, the world's largest working offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Cumbria - covering an area equal to 20,000 football pitches - has opened off the coast of Cumbria. It’s a £1bn facility with 189 turbines at 623ft high, and it covers an area of 55 square miles, which is equal to 20,000 football pitches.

California's move makes it the largest economy in the world to have made such a pledge and builds from the fact that California met more than a third of its energy needs with renewable power last year. It looks set to become one of two US states to have made a 100% renewable commitment for 2045, after Hawaii approved a similar bill in 2015, and given its size, California is expected to influence other states to adopt similar legislation – or even spur a national transition to clean energy.

environmental law firm Earthjustice’s attorney Paul Cort said SB100 will serve as “an inventive blueprint” to safeguard the climate in California and elsewhere. “Already home to 500,000 clean energy jobs and the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the US, California is proving that it can be done.”

As one of the biggest companies in world, Facebook's decision might be expected to make a similar impact, and all this comes out of necessity. This week the image of an Art Instillation ins Berlin known as 'Politicians Discussing Global Warming' has been doing the rounds on social media, show the world wide concern about climate change. Unsurprisingly then, further and higher education courses in renewable energy have also become more popular, such as the Foundation Degree/HLA Building Services & Renewable Energy.

What the tutors say

‘Career opportunities, both with ourselves and in the industry in general are very strong at the moment, the efficiencies and green energy pull on the whole market has really increased and most customers want to be as efficient as possible. Having students that have the experience of working in line with that and have the ability and knowledge is very important. That’s where the foundation degree has worked very well, in having students on placement here and with other companies, to give them the best view of the market going forward.’

What the students say

Stephen McCreesh studied a Foundation Degree in Building Services and Renewable Energy and worked at Green Energy Technology. Stephen said: ‘I wanted to further my education prospects and get into the working environment, so I felt that the Foundation Degree gave me the best of both worlds. It allowed me to enhance my field of study along with getting out and working in what is a very up and coming career area.’

More information

Recent events have shown that renewable energy continues to develop and is being supported as it does so, and as ever South West College is endeavouring to be part of the change. You can find out more about the course here.