Solar energy systems engineers design solar energy systems that effectively harness the sun power and convert it into electricity.
Solar energy systems engineers main focus is to perform site-specific engineering analysis or evaluation of energy efficiency and solar projects for residential, commercial, or industrial customers.
These green job holders design solar panels using photovoltaic (PV) cells, and solar thermal systems to convert the sun energy into electricity that will then be used to power systems such as hot water , space heating systems or put electricity into the grid.
Those who hold solar energy systems engineer jobs design or coordinate the design of photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal systems, including system components, for residential and commercial buildings. After completing the design, they perform computer simulation of solar photovoltaic generation system performance or energy production to optimize efficiency. When performing the jobs, solar energy systems engineers use their knowledge of structural energy requirements, local climates, solar technology, and thermodynamics.
To assist with their work, solar energy systems engineer may use different tools and technologies. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create electrical single-line diagrams, panel schedules, or connection diagrams for solar electric systems. They also use simulation software such as SOLAR-2, SolTrace, MATLAB, PV energy prediction or PV energy modeling to assist with modeling and simulation of their designs. Other tools that they may use in their occupation are differential scanning calorimeters, thermogravimetric analyzers, laboratory mechanical convection ovens, field emission scanning electron microscopes, semiconductor process systems, and spectrometers.
Solar energy systems engineers not only design, but also create plans for solar energy system development, monitoring, and evaluation activities. They provide technical direction or support to installation teams during installation, start-up, testing, system commissioning, or performance monitoring. Solar energy systems engineers evaluate the installation activities and create checklists for inspection of completed solar installation projects. To ensure quality work, they develop standard operation procedures and quality or safety standards for solar installation work.
Solar energy system engineer jobs consist of both office based work or on a job site for specific solar projects. When on job sites, they may experience hot, cold, and unfavorable environmental conditions. They are required to use proper safety equipment and protocols. Most solar energy systems engineers work a standard 40-hour week, but can expect occasional evening, weekend, and holiday. Solar energy systems engineers may also need to travel extensively to job sites based on demands.
Obtaining a green job as a solar energy system engineers requires at minimum a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. The majority of solar energy systems engineers have a degree in one of the following areas: aeronautical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. They can also have a degree in chemistry, computer science, or physics. Adding a concentration in solar energy can make them more marketable in the job field.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a bright outlook for solar energy systems engineers and expects employment of this field to grow about 9 percent from 2010 until 2020; slower than the average for all green jobs. The BLS projected 44,800 solar energy systems engineer job openings between 2010 and 2020, and noted 157,000 jobs are currently filled. Titles included Alternative Energy Engineers, Photovoltaic (PV) Design Engineers, PV Engineers, Solar Array Engineers, Solar Design Engineers, Solar Energy Engineers, Solar Power Engineers, Solar Project Engineers, and Solar PV Systems Design Engineers. The BLS further reports that the median annual wage for salaried solar energy systems engineer was $92,030 in 2012 with median hourly wage of $44.24. Across the US job market, the lowest 25 percentile of solar energy systems engineers earned about $67,360, and the top 25 percentile earned about $89,080 based on level of experience. Solar energy systems engineers receive the highest wage in the Washington D.C., where they receive normal pay levels of approximating $116,420. Professionals that work in this career can make the highest salaries in Public Administration, where they earn average pay of $103,380.