The recent boom of solar energy in Europe is a cause for celebration. Having quickly become the cleanest and most cost-effective energy source, solar is now gearing up for massive deployments in 2020. Indeed, after a stellar year for installations in Europe, with a 110% increase and over 20GW of capacity added, the future of solar looks brighter than ever.
Where solar really soars is in its immense employment potential, where it creates more jobs per installed watt than any other power generation source. As a result of new installations, and research and development, solar jobs are expected to double by 2021 compared to 2016. In Europe alone, solar can create up to 500,000 jobs by 2030, and 1.7 million by 2050. These jobs are highly-skilled and local, and can help deliver a European Green Deal for all by targeting former coal regions for solar projects – sites that have untapped solar potential, and are thus attractive business environments for solar deployment and manufacturing. In fact, a recent Joint Research Centre study found solar to be particularly suitable for employing former coal workers and to help drive regional development.
In this series of articles, SolarPower Europe catches up with the people behind the power, putting a spotlight on those who work in the solar sector. Today, we talked with Noemie Daguenet, Project Manager (Grid and Delivery), from Lightsource BP.
Why did you choose to work in the solar sector?
I fell into renewable energies when I was a teenager and my dad left the French Airforce for a job in the wind industry. A couple of years later, he participated in the development and construction of the first PV large-scale project in France, and I could see with my own eyes how a solar farm was built. I was hooked! I knew then that I would be an engineer working in renewable energy.
What is your favourite aspect of working in the solar industry?
My favourite aspect is knowing that my little contribution makes the world better. I’m trying to help fight climate change at my scale. Everything is moving fast, every month a new product arrives on the market. You must constantly keep in touch with different technologies. It’s a fast-moving industry and every day is different.
Tell us about your day-to-day activities?
Depending on which phase the project is at, I could be spending the day on-site overseeing the progress of construction, meeting with the different contractors and shareholders, or ensuring that various project milestones have been reached. If the project is still in a development phase, I will be looking at the negotiation of the contract, getting a status on where we are with the different teams working on the project, and pushing for the completion.
The Project Manager is the centre point of all departments, which is very enjoyable. It allows you to see the project from an early phase of development – just a piece of land – to the day where we connect the different pieces of equipment on the site and finally generate electricity. It is very rewarding to see the full cycle of a project.
What is something most people do not know about solar?
Solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. The cost of renewable energy generation is dropping and in some regions is now cheaper than building gas or coal-fuelled power stations. Solar PV technologies are evolving very fast. As a comparison, on my first project back in 2010 we were using modules with a power of 75 Wp while we are now installing in the range of 400 Wp modules.
What do you think the future of the solar sector will look like?
For me, the future of solar is allying battery and solar energy together. By combining these two technologies, we can now store the energy we don’t use during the day. Battery and solar technologies are developing rapidly and getting cheaper every day due to the high demand, and we should be installing them automatically on new buildings. I believe this is one of the solutions to fight climate change.
Do you work in the solar sector? We’d love to hear from you and how your work is contributing to the energy transition. Send us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.