Recruitment: Barrier to Bioenergy Deployment and How to Address it

Sarah Wall

Barrier to Bioenergy Development and How to Address it

Introduction of the Problem

In recent years, more and more countries have become aware that biogas as a source of energy is an important factor for the transition towards a greener, more resilient, and climate-neutral economy.

 

This renewable energy source can be either captured from landfills or produced from a variety of wastes. Studies show that if entirely utilized, biogas yields from existing organic wastes could satisfy about 20% of current natural gas use, Science Direct reported.

 

However, compared to other renewable sources of energy, the total production of biogas is still relatively low.

 

Challenges

Some of the main challenges that are hindering the wider implementation of biogas as an energy source include: Recruitment challenges due to limited awareness of the sector; unsteady production and quality variations, which can lead to interference in generation or biogas applications, resulting in lower reliability; lack of appropriate policies; insufficient capital and subsidies; and lack of adequate infrastructures.

 

By 2050, the renewable energy industry has the potential to provide over 14 million new jobs, according to David Banmiller, host of Wood Mackenzie’s podcast Interchange Recharged. He added, however, that to join the renewable energy workforce of the future, people would need to have the right skills.

 

Currently, there are now noticeable skill shortages and shortages of skilled labor that are beginning to emerge as a bottleneck to delivering targets and outcomes, said Caleigh Andrews, International Energy Agency (IEA) energy analyst, who was a guest at Interchange Recharged in February.

 

Andrews said they are expecting this to become an even bigger problem in the future. She cited as an example the building of clean energy installations, which will require a massive amount of skilled labor that most countries worldwide just don’t have yet.

 

“Meeting targets will mean attracting new people to the renewable energy workforce, training them as well as reskilling existing energy workers, and this will require a great deal of foresight as to geographies and sectors in which these workers would be needed, what skills they’d need and in what quantities,” Andrews explained.

 

Bigas Sector Workers

In 2022, about 3.6 million people were working in the bioenergy industry globally, data from the IEA showed. This includes growing feedstocks, processing them, building and operating biofuel and biogas production facilities, and delivering those fuels to market.

 

The production of biogas relies on a large number of facilities that are reliant on crop residuals, manure, municipal solid waste, and wastewater. In 2022, many new facilities around the world were completed with more expected to come online in 2023 and contribute to growth in new construction-related jobs.

 

The US has more than 120 biogas facilities that were under construction or brought online last year, while about 300 new plants came online in Europe, the IEA said, adding that with this growth in facilities, employment in the bioenergy sector as a whole is poised for further expansion.

 

In the biogas sector, specific technical expertise is required from individuals, like anaerobic digestion, waste management, process engineering, and renewable energy systems. The challenge will fall on finding candidates with the right skill set and experience.

 

 

The barrier to biogas

 

Demand

Biogas can be used the same way as people use natural gas, including heating and electricity generation. When upgraded, it can also be used as fuel for vehicles. Upgraded biogas – biomethane – can be injected into natural gas pipelines while biogas sludge can be used for the production of biofertilizer for farms due to it having a high level of phosphorus.

 

From 2010 to 2016, data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed that global electricity generation from biogas grew from 46,108 gigawatt/hour (GWh) in 2010 to 87,500 GWh in 2016, indicating a 90% growth in six years.

 

In its Biogas and Biomethane 2023 report, the IEA said it is expecting the growth in the production of biogases to accelerate from 19% in 2017-2022 to 32% in 2023-2028.

 

To support the sector’s growth and development, recruiting skilled professionals with the right skill set is needed.

 

Solutions

 

Governments and policymakers

Building the skilled renewable energy workforce of the future requires cooperation and a lot of planning from policymakers, energy companies, as well as labor representation, and education, Andrews said.

 

According to her, the most immediate step for governments across the globe to take is to put in place clear policies that will drive demand for clean technologies. Andrews said this will clearly act as a signal for the energy companies’ workforce and new entrants to the industry that pursuing training and a career in renewable energy is a safe bet.

 

“Because, obviously, nobody would want to spend their time and money in a career where they’re not sure if it’s even going to continue to exist or to be a stable source of work,” she explained.

 

Businesses and the Education Sector

 

To attract new talent, businesses should engage with the education sector as expert-led training is important to ensure that they can attract and develop talented personnel and position themselves at the forefront of the industry.

 

Recruiting provides

 

These organizations contribute to the marketing efforts, while at the same time, offering creative hiring solutions that would bridge the gap between education providers and SME businesses who need to hire within the sector.

 

Darwin Recruitment can offer businesses unique recruiting and training solutions designed to build a sustainable talent pipeline.

 

To take a look at our other Renewable Energy blogs, click this link.