This is a relatively new field. An energy engineer is involved with the production of energy from natural resources, such as the extraction of oil and gas, as well as from renewable or sustainable sources of energy, including biofuels, hydro-, wind and solar power.
Energy engineers are focused on finding efficient, clean and innovative ways to supply energy. They work in a variety of roles, including designing and testing machinery, developing ways of improving existing processes, and converting, transmitting and supplying useful energy to meet our needs for electricity.
Energy engineers plan, design, organise and oversee the construction or remodelling of energy generation plants and design, develop or evaluate energy-related projects to reduce energy costs or improve energy efficiency.
They research and develop ways to generate new energy, improve the efficient use of energy through reducing emissions from fossil fuels, and minimise environmental damage.
Energy engineers use various engineering disciplines to prevent, control and remove environmental health hazards. They apply their knowledge and skills to such things as environmental impact assessment, natural resources management and pollution control. Work may include waste treatment, site clearing, or pollution-control technology.
Energy engineers can have an extremely varied workload, depending on the sector in which they work or the type of project involved. Site work is typically on a shift basis, while design and research areas typically follow standard office hours.
Energy is a topic of huge importance and interest to individuals, industry and government. Climate change and the increased price of oil and gas as an energy source have prompted the government to make sustainable and renewable energy generation a priority. Consequently, the renewable energy industry is expanding rapidly.
As the demand for oil and gas rises, pressure for businesses to reduce carbon emissions and be more energy efficient increases. In turn, this has led to a growth in renewable or sustainable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydropower.
Schooling & School Subjects
Degree: A BSc (Eng) or BEng in a relevant engineering or science subject such as Electrical, Electro-Mechanical or Electronics is necessary,
available at all universities.
Postgraduate: Postgraduate study is required for research positions and career development.
Possible courses are:
MSc (Eng) in Sustainable Energy Engineering requires a BSc (Eng) or equivalent with 65% average in final year.
The postgraduate programme in renewable and sustainable energy studies focuses on the training of scientists, planners, economists, project developers and engineers to equip them to work in the field of renewable and sustainable energy (RSE).
A Masters or MEng (Structured) degree or a MEng (Research) requires a thesis. A Doctorate, MPhil or PhD with research papers for publication.
Note: The engineering faculties of some universities offer a support programme to help students to become self-sufficient and capable of completing the very demanding engineering course. The programme is aimed at students from communities which lack proper education facilities. Only students with good grades would be considered.
Professional qualifications and continuous training are an integral part of career development, and the diverse nature of the profession offers opportunities to move into different areas of work in order to gain new skills and experience. There are also opportunities to join the growing number of environmental consultancies, become self-employed or move into the education field.
It is essential to keep up to date with energy legislation, compliance and reporting requirements through training and continuous professional development (CPD). Attending internal and external training courses, relevant seminars and conferences is an effective way of keeping informed of current issues and refreshing your knowledge. Most large firms offer structured training and encourage professional status.
• energy management companies
• waste management companies
Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency
Ground Floor Block E
150 Linden Street Strathavon
Tel: (063) 235-8031
South African Alternative Energy Association
31 Barrington Estate.
171 Bellairs Drive,
Tel: 071 637 8466
Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
1st Floor, Waterview Corner Building
2 Ernest Oppenheimer Avenue
Bruma Lake Office Park, Bruma
Tel: (011) 607-9500
Tel: 086 003 7566