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Career Outlook

INDUSTRY OVERVIEW The U.S. Energy Industry is on Fire


by Dr. Tyrone Taborn

ne of the brightest spots on the job horizon is the energy sector, but less than 1.5 percent of African Americans in four-year colleges are getting degrees associated with the energy industry. While employment for minorities suffered during the economic downturn, job opportunities have been rapidly growing in all areas in energy. Unfortunately, they have failed to maximize on the opportunities.

What has accounted for the uptick in the energy industry is that the United States is a leader in production and supply, and one of the world’s largest energy consumers. The energy industry is the third largest in the United States. U.S. energy companies produce oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power, renew- able energy and fuels, as well as electric- ity, smart grid, and demand response technologies.

Growing consumer demand and world class innovation—combined with a com- petitive workforce and supply chain ca- pable of building, installing, and servicing energy technologies—make the United States the world’s most attractive market in the $6 trillion global energy market.


Renewable Energy: The United States is home to a thriving renewable energy industry, with globally competitive firms in all subsectors, including the wind, solar, geothermal, hydro- power, biomass, and biofuels sectors. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) expects that by 2030 the share of renewables in the U.S. power generation mix to reach 27 percent.

In fact, by then, the United States is projected to have 343 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity—an increase of 420 percent from 2010 totals. To achieve these gains, BNEF projects that just under $700 billion will be invested in the U.S. renewable energy sector during the next two decades with investment opportunities cascading across the industry’s deep and multi-faceted supply chain.

Today, the United States produces more geothermal en- ergy than any other country (3,187 megawatt (MW); more biomass power than any other country (16,250 MW); enjoys the second-largest wind industry (60,078 MW); third-largest hydropower industry (100,000 MW); and the fifth-largest solar industry (9,370 MW).

Renewable Fuels: With access to abundant natural resources, the industrial wood pellet and ethanol industries are also increasing capacity—particularly to serve overseas markets.

34 HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | Fall 2014

According to the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, the United States helps meet the world’s demand for renewable, carbon beneficial wood pellets through a strong and growing forest- scape that is protected by rigorous federal and state laws, con- tractual obligations, independent sustainability certifications and third party audits.

U.S. wood pellet manufacturers can

now produce more than 16 billion metric tons of pellets annu- ally. Much of the production has been added in recent years to export to Europe. In 2012, nearly 1.9 million metric tons were exported, and in 2013 exporters were on track to exceed the previous year’s levels.

America’s ethanol industry is the largest and most efficient in the world, incorporating technological innovations to produce over 13 billion gallons of ethanol annually. In addition, the industry is expanding to new markets. During 2012, the U.S. ethanol industry exported an estimated 700-750 million gal- lons of ethanol—around 6 percent of its total production—to markets around the world. Investment opportunities also exist for the development of advanced biofuels utilizing new tech- nologies and feedstock, particularly in the aviation sector.

Oil and Gas: The United States is undergoing a revolution in oil and natural gas production. American companies have developed techniques for extracting hydrocarbons from shale,

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