Renewable Energies: exciting training with good prospects
The renewable energies sector is very successful in Germany: every year, the number of people employed is growing by ten percent – which comes as no surprise because German companies are world leaders in solar technology and wind power. In order to meet the demand for specialists, ever more new courses and educational opportunities are emerging in the field of renewable energies; the figures have now topped 250. A quarter of these are specifically tailored to the field, the others offer majors in subjects like solar technology and power electronics. “There is probably no other country that offers so many opportunities to get a foothold in the green sector,” says Theo Bühler of the Bonn Science Shop, who advises on paths to qualifications.
There is a long tradition of cooperation between universities and business in Germany. This guarantees that students acquire the precise knowledge required by the manufacturers of wind turbines and solar cells. However, Germany also plays a leading role in basic research, at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, for example, where young researchers can work on their final theses and dissertations.
German universities are well-integrated in international networks. Take the “Postgraduate Programme Renewable Energy” at the University of Oldenburg, for instance: since it was set up 24 years ago it has hosted guests from more than 80 countries. And in the “European Master in Renewable Energy” course, a project run by eight European universities, students complete their training in two or even three countries.
Foreign students are willing to go to a lot of trouble to study at a German university – like Gustavo de Abreu Rodrigues who specially learned German to do so. The 22 year-old Brazilian is studying physical technology in São Paulo. Thanks to UNIBRAL, a programme offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and its Brazilian partner organization CAPES, Rodrigues is spending a semester at Gelsenkirchen University of Applied Sciences, specialising in solar technology. “This programme is not only very well-known but also very sought-after, because studies in Brazil are extremely theoretical,” comments Rodrigues. “In Germany, on the other hand, I can study more practical subjects.” Brazil had largely opted for water power but was gradually investigating the potential of solar technology. “It’s my ambition to drive research and production of solar modules in Brazil,” says Rodrigues.
Proximity to practice
Anyone wanting to spend even more time on practical issues should take a further look at dual programmes. These are sandwich courses combining practical industrial training in a company with a university education and culminating in two qualifications. Students at Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, for example, not only come away with a Bachelor’s degree in building services and power engineering but also complete an apprenticeship as an electronic technician or systems mechanic. There is also a broad spectrum of Bachelor’s and Master’s courses in disciplines like “Sustainable electric power supply” (University of Stuttgart) and “Environmental engineering sciences” (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar). Those with existing qualifications can also discover various in-service training options, such as distance study, as well as numerous opportunities to study for a doctorate in research training groups and doctoral programmes.