There are numerous ways to get involved in the biofuels industry, with green jobs of all shapes and sizes to choose from. That’s because there are so many ways biofuels can be used to replace conventional sources of energy are numerous.
Landfill gas (methane), for instance, can be captured in landfill gas to energy (LGE) plants to burn for electricity or for heating buildings and homes. Agricultural waste products can be turned into biofuels for vehicles (usually blended with petroleum fuels). Algae can be grown and oil extracted through a wide range of unique methods to produce fuel for all manner of human uses.
With so many green career options in the biofuels industry, you’ll find that no matter your skill set or specific interest, there is likely a place for you.
Current Developments in the Biofuels Energy Industry
The US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be produced for use in vehicles by 2022. Today, there are only 9+ billion gallons being produced, leaving a huge gap to fill. And as businesses step in to provide the fuel where it is needed, that means loads of jobs.
Of course, motor fuels is just one of the places biofuels technology is applied. As mentioned, there are also green job opportunities in landfill gas plants, biomass plants, algae plants, and more. Here’s a quick overview of where you’ll find the greatest concentration of biofuels energy development (landfill gas, biomass, and wood combined) in the US according to the US Energy Efficiency Administration’s figures (2008 figures in thousand kilowatt hours):
- California – 6,062,631
- Florida – 4,237,765
- Maine – 3,637,795
- Alabama – 3,291,196
- Georgia – 2,931,302
- Louisiana – 2,493,391
- Virginia – 2,465,739
- Michigan – 2,250,155
- Pennsylvania – 2,143,017
- New York – 2,081,064
- North Carolina – 2,019,958
- South Carolina – 1,733,560
- Minnesota – 1,543,617
- Arkansas – 1,478,310
- Washington – 1,437,051
- Mississippi – 1,397,118
- Texas – 1,382,743
- Massachusetts – 1,259,419
- Wisconsin – 1,251,836
- New Hampshire – 1,089,623
The Types of Green Jobs Available in the Biofuels Energy Industry
Want to know the actual types of jobs available for you if you’re interested in biofuels? This list will give you a general idea of the opportunities:
- Landfill gas or biomass plant technician or operator: These roles will have you responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of landfill gas systems to ensure the efficient functioning of the equipment and maximum energy output.
- Landfill gas or biomass plant designer: Here you’ll work to design and construct and implement landfill gas to energy plants – you may be an engineer, a computer programmer, or scientist.
- Biofuels energy plant installer: A wide variety of trades – metal workers, welders, plumbers, and more – are required to build and bring biofuels energy plants online.
- Animal waste collector: Using agricultural, chemistry, electrical, mechanical, or systems skills you’ll collect, sort, transport, and manage animal waste for use in biofuels energy plants.
- Research scientists and engineers: Geologists and hydrogeologists are needed in the biofuels industry to do site evaluations for suitability for biofuels plants. Other scientists are hard at work devising innovative systems for capturing energy from algae, biomass, agricultural waste, and so on.
- Lab technicians: Whether you’re formulating new forms of biofuels for use in vehicles, studying algae, or working with biofuels refinement systems, you can be a lab technician in chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, and more.
- Farmers and seasonal workers: Of course, many biofuels rely on agricultural feedstocks, so there are lots of jobs available for full time and seasonal workers in this line of business.
- Construction workers: Thousands of people will be required to create the infrastructure for delivering biofuels to commercial facilities, homes, and fuel stations.
- Inspectors and standard developers: Ensuring biofuels production and distribution happens safely and efficiently is the job of inspectors and those developing codes and standards for the biofuels industry.
- Transportation specialists: Truck drivers, pipeline operators, rail car operators, and train station workers are all required to convey biofuels along the value chain.
Image Via: Argonne National Laboratory