Clean Energy Researcher


Clean energy researchers are environmental engineers who specialize in discovering alternative and renewable energy sources. Like other environmental engineers, they often work in teams with other professionals. They analyze energy needs and plan renewable, environmentally friendly solutions. For example, they may help people have lower per-unit energy costs and also help preserve the environment.

Woman with a hardhat on writing in a notebook at a wind farm

At a glance

Imagine you’re working for a large oil and gas company. They’ve asked you to work on a new project researching technologies that will help reduce the amount of fresh water used when taking oil from the ground.

As part of your research, you’re attending an international conference focusing on the global issues concerning water. At the conference, you learn about new technologies that have reduced the agricultural industry’s water usage by 30%. This is very exciting because there may be a way to modify those same techniques to apply to the oil and gas industry.

A new lead like this one means you will be using your problem-solving skills and creativity to construct a model to demonstrate how this technology could work for oil extraction. Once it’s developed, you and your team will present it as a possible solution to the oil company’s water issues.

In Canada, we depend on energy to support our lifestyles and economy. The importance of your job stems from this—your research will result in more sustainable ways to extract energy from the ground and the discovery of new energy sources.

As a clean energy researcher, you are happy that your work is increasing energy efficiency and will reduce environmental damage caused by the growing need for power.

Job duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a clean energy researcher:

  • Research the types of alternative and renewable energy sources
  • Research the types of energy generators
  • Research global energy and related environmental issues
  • Analyze the amount of energy that a client needs
  • Develop energy-saving activities for new construction projects
  • Calculate how much energy a client uses every month and its cost
  • Prepare and evaluate environmental impact statements
  • Build models of renewable energy generators
  • Design environmentally safe energy generators

Work environment

Clean energy researchers work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the lab:

  • Research and calculations to develop innovations in renewable energy
  • Testing new energy developments

In the field:

  • Assist clients in meeting needs
  • Research and site visits

In the office:

  • Writing reports and proposals

Where to work

  • Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
  • Consulting companies
  • Engineering firms
  • Non-profit organizations and public utilities companies
  • Small businesses or self employed

Education & requirements

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a clean energy researcher is a university degree. A master’s degree of Ph.D. may be required and can improve your employment prospects and salary. If you are considering a career as a clean energy researcher, the following programs are most applicable:

  • Environmental engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Chemical engineering

To become an engineer, you will need to work for two or three years as an Engineer-in-Training (EIT), and then write and pass a professional exam. Certification from your province or territory may be required.

If you are a high school student considering a career as a clean energy researcher you should have a strong interest in:

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Computer science
  • Biology
  • English

Salary

Clean energy researchers with a university degree make an average of $49,000 per year in Canada.

With a post graduate degree and with several years of experience, you could make between $78,000 and $104,000 per year.