Green Careers Week

Green Careers Week

Green Careers: What are the Opportunities? When and Where?

Green Careers Week was held between 7th and 12th November 2022. Peter provided  an overview of green jobs in the UK energy sector as well as some specific opportunities in the fields of heating and transport.

Click below to download a PDF copy of the slides.

Green Careers Week CDI November 8 SLIDES

This inaugural event was supported by prestigious partners from around the UK, including the Royal Society and the Met Office. The goal of the event was to raise awareness among teachers and young people of career opportunities that will result from the emerging technologies that are being driven by the Energy Transition.

Young people are passionate about taking action on climate change; surveys suggest that nearly two-thirds of them are ‘worried’ or ‘extremely worried’ about the climate crisis. The conference organizers want to  highlight the amazing career pathways they can follow for a sustainable future.


Peter Stewart

Peter Stewart

Founder, Resource Economist

Peter worked for more than 30 years as an energy and commodities analyst, before becoming a work and careers coach. He has served on the Managing Council of the British Institute of Energy Economics, and has written widely about the challenges facing the energy workforce.

Energy Transitions

Sustainable Transitions

A Sustainable Energy Future?

The world’s energy system is going through a profound transition from fossil fuels to low carbon and renewable resources. Many people believe that the risk of climate change is not being addressed quickly enough, and that the switch from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is happening too slowly.

Communities Are Key

Most companies and even governments think about the energy transition in techno-economic terms. They argue about what technologies to put in place, the potential costs and who will pay. But for most people it is more basic: they want access to energy at a reasonable price, but they also to live on a planet that has a future.

Understanding The Transitions

The energy transition is not a single thing. Decarbonizing heating and cooling is a very different challenge to switching the world’s car fleet from gasoline and diesel to low carbon alternatives. It helps to break down the problem into manageable chunks, and then see the synergies between the different pathways. 

Don't Get Hooked on Technologies

For the last century, the energy industry has harnessed sophisticated  technologies to deliver energy from centralised hubs to  billions of people. That top-down model is now changing. Disruptive new technologies are emerging that will transform the energy landscape, giving more power and choice to communities and individuals. 

Leadership and Vision

For the transitions to be sustainable, radical transformations in leadership, business models and systems are urgently needed. Uncertainties cannot be used as an excuse to delay taking action. We believe that everyone needs to have a voice in the energy system of the future. A visionary approach that treats individuals with respect, rather than as costs and externalities.

What I Offer

I have worked in the energy industry for more than 30 years, as a journalist,  consultant and analyst. I  offer training and consulting on the impact of new energy on oil and gas use. I believe that the future of energy will be decided by people rather than technology and offer training and coaching on strategy and leadership in the new era of energy transition.

Follow the Story

Click on the nearby buttons to find out more about our stance on the energy transition

Heating and Cooling

Fuels used in heating  have gradually evolved from solid fuels such as coal, to liquid fuels such as kerosene and heating oil, to gaseous fuels such as LPGs and natural gas.

The equipment used to burn the fuels has moved in tandem. My grandmother’s house had kerosene stoves in each room, and there was a coal fire in the living room. The use of energy to provide in home is known as residential, and for shiops and offices it is generally called commercial heating. Sometimes you will see the term ‘space heating’ to differentiate between heating to keep warm and to heat water for cooking.


The use of coal gave way in the 1970s and 1980s to central heating, where a central boiler powered by gas or electricity would heat the water in radiators to provide heating for the home. Many older homes, particualrly in germany and parts of the UK, have large tanks which are filled up with gasoil (also known as heating oil) during the year, and that provides the fuel to keep a house warm. Nowadays, natural gas is now most commonly used in homes in Europe as the boiler fuel, although electrical equipmentn may also be used, for instance electric bar heaters in the UK or electric-powered portable oil or fan heaters, as well as the kotasu in Japan.

The picture for commercial properties is broadly similar to the residential picture, although larger factories may find significant economies of scale that can be integrated with their production processes.

Blowing Hot and Cold

As global warming accelerates, and people become more affluent in emerging markest, the balance between heating and cooling needs is changing.

Many homes in poorer countries do not have central heating, and so use local installations such as LPG, kerosene or paraffin stoves to keep warm, and for cooking. The use of firewood and coal is also common in less affluent countries in northern Asia. El;etcric heating is generally expensive, but may often be found in poorer homes which cannot afford to install more efficient central systems. In the former Soviet Union, many homes were heated using waste heat from industrial facilities, and this form of heating remains fairly widespread.

A notable trend for the future is the increasing use of electricity for cooling, particularly in countries that have been too poor to afford such luxuries. Air-conditioning is common in the United States and the Middle East,  but is being installed more frequently in homes in Europe, South America and Asia. Electric fans have been used in tropical regions for cooling for many years, and their use is also growing. This trend is likely to be accelerated by global warming.

The intensity of the heat source required has become a notable field of research. While intense heat is required to cook, less intensive sources can be used to warm water or to keep homes warm. Tapping geothermal energy through the use of heat pumps has become popular in some countries, although it remains an expensive option. 


Mobility and Transport

Few people know that the first road vehicles were powered by alcohol and natural gas. Alcohol went out of use in the United States in the 1920s when prohibition came in. The growth of petrol (gasoline) and diesel as a fuel soared the the 1940s and 1950s as passenger use became more popular, and as long-haul trucking became the norm. Nowadays, 1 in 11 barrels of oil is used by the American motorist, and transportation use accounts for nealry two thirds of all oil demand.

Transport is regarded as a hard-to-decarbonise option because the vehicle stock turns over fairly slowly. Most cars are on the road for at least 15 years, and while decisions on the make-up of commercial-vehicle fleets are usually based on economics, the choice of passenger vehicle is dictated mostly by brand image and psychology. People who have driven a liquid-fuelled car for most of their lives are often loathe to experiment.

The main Alternative Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) use either gas or electricity.

The AFVs that use gas are usually termed Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) and the fuels they use may be either Liquefied Natural gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Large trucks often use LNG as their fuel, while passenger cars and vans most often use LPG or CNG as an alternative to petrol or diesel. 

The use of electric power in transport is mainly confined to passenger cars, usually at the top end of the price range, and for short-haul driving in giolf carts, trolley buses and so on. The types of electric vehicle (EV) include pure EVs and a panoply of different hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which have electric batteries but can also use gasoline or sometimes diesel.  



On your bike

Like many people during the Covid-19 lockldown, I bought an electric bike and have not regretted it for an instant. My ventures can be followed on my blog at The lockdown led to a surge in sales of electric bikes across Europe, as people with time on their hands opted for e-mobility for leisure. Many came out of lockdown with a renewed commitment to achieveing a sustainable lifestyle.

Manufacturing and Freight

The use of energy in manufacturing is determined partly by the type of goods being manufactured, and also by the location of factories and manufacturing plants and their proximity to different sources of energy.

Power sources can be incredibly flexible. In the 1700s, wind and water were widely used to drive mills that would do everything from grinding down grain to making cloth. Nowadays, the energy-intensity of fossil fuels means that coal, oil, gas and fossil-fuel derivatives such as petroleum coke are most widely used in manufacturing. This is particularly the case in large-scale energy intensive industries such as metal smelting.

Electricity is also used in  smaller factories, but it is generally more costly than bulk fuels. The size of the factory and economies of scale are always a consideration. In ceramics, for example, gas may be used for larger kilns, while electricity would be used typically for studio ceramics. This same pattern is seen across the manufacturing sector. Decisions need to weigh not only the current cost of fuels but also their future costs. Considerable research may be required when deciding on fuel selection.


Heavy Duty

Fuel decisions for manufacturing depend largely on the scale of the factory and how intensive the form of energy that is required. Decisions can affect long-term profitability, and need to be carefully considered.


As well as manufacturing the goods, energy is also consumed in delivering the goods to storage locations and their end-use markets. The type of energy consumed depends on the facilities used for transport.

Ships and barges are often used for bulky products that would be expensive to move by road. These typically use heavy fuel oil, diesel or gasoil. In the past, thse have used the power of wind, and this has occasionally made a resurgence. Electricity and gas are also occasionally used.

Trucks and lorries are also commonly used. These mostly use diesel, although ion some parts of the world gasoline is more commonly used. The idea of using gas in various forms has become more popular, but still not achieved critical scale (see above).

Airplanes are also commonly used to carry smaller items of freight. Most planes use aviation kerosene as their fuel.

An interesting development for the future relates to the location of the manufacture. The traditional pattern has been to make goods where it is cheapest, and then transport them to the markets where they will be consumed. The development of three-dimensional plastics could be a game-changer, as it would allow goods to be manufactured using computers and to minimise the freight required to reach market.    



Most people’s image of the power sector comes from the pylons that are used to transport electricity around the country, or perhaps of the wind farms and solar panels that you drive past on the motorway.

It’s difficult from this to conceptualise the scale of the power generated around the world. At any instant, the world consumes an amount of electric energy that is equivalent to that released by tens of thousands of nuclear explosions. This electricity has to be generated on a continuing basis because electricity is a flow, and it cannot be stored (although technologies are being developed to do this).

Electricity generation is either from fossil fuels, increasing natural gas, or from renewables such as wind, solar and geothermal energy.  

The transmission and distribution of electricity involves a gradual stepping-down of the load carried in the lines until finally, when it reaches you home, it is relatively safe to use.

Industry also uses significant amounts of electricity, but this may be delivered more intensively as three-phase power.


The future is electric

Whether the electricity you use is low carbon depends on the fuels used to generate it. These range from coal and oi to lower carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas to zero-carbon renewable sources such as wind or solar.

Did you know how much carbon is emitted by a single search on Google? There’s an interesting factoid that goes the rounds that a single search uses enough power to fuel a light bulb for an hour. This turns out not to be true see but may people are unaware of the scale of energy use by the Internet. As the Internet of Things gets bigger, the use of power by technology firms will increase.  

Food and Agriculture

The world’s population is forecast to rise from 7.5 billion people currently to as many as 10 billion by 2050. This growing population is likely to be more wealthy than past generations and, for much of history, that has correlated with higher food consumption.

The climate toll of large-scale agriculture is clear. The amount of methane created by farm animals used for meat, the impact on biodiversity from  pesticides used to improve crop yields, and the deforestation that results from clearing large swathes of countryside to make land available for agriculture have all been widely noted.

More recently, however, there has been a growing awareness that food and energy issues cannot be separated.

The linkages were first exposed when the use of grains and sugar in biofuels resulted in fears of shortages of these foods for nutrition,

Biofuels are seen as valuable for meeting climate targets because, the theory goes, the crops used have already extracted the CO2 from the air, so it can be emitted without any overall climate impact. This has been the justification of European Union rules on bio-content in fuels, but it was only belatedly that these were accompanied by standards of sustainability and certification of the crops used.

Food and Energy Supply Chains in Conflict

Food and energy could end up competing for space. Biofuel requirements for fossil fuels are well intentioned, but the competing demands for grains and sugars from the food and energy sectors could become problematic.

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Waste Disposal

As the world’s population grows, more waste is produced. Waste disposal is critical to ensure that the environment for human habitation is hygienic and safe, but also to avoid biodiversity loss.

Although carbon has had a higher profile in recent years, the pollution from energy production includes a range of pollutive by-products, from sulphur and nitrogen oxides (SOx and NOx) to particulate matter (PM) and shloro-fluor carbons (CFCs) that can damage the ozone layer. There are always tradeoffs between making energy and curbing its harmful effects.

Pollution control is part of a bigger issue of how waste from a multitude of human activities can be disposed of safely and with the minimum damage to the environment. In many cases, the problem is not what we do or use, but how we get rid of it.

Recycling everyday garbage from household activity involves most people placing their used bottles and cans in a recycling bin. But that doesn’t solve the problem if the recycled products are shipped off to a foreign country where they may simply be burnt or jettisoned into the biosphere. That simply exports the problem.

Demonizing certain activities does not help. For example, plastics are durable and have the potential to be used to reduce carbon emissions. But disposal of plastics has become a major hazard to marine systems. 

Don't breathe too deeply

Air pollution and carbon emissions are both problematic for the environment. But in Asia, air quality issues are of much more concern for most people than the long-term risk of climate change. 

A Methodological Approach

The issues around waste and hygiene are hugely divisive. It is fraught with issues of wealth, class and privilege.  Social groups often demonize each other without self-scrutiny. As the populist right has become more dominant, this is often expressed in overt racist tones — Trump’s references to the Covid-19 virus as the Chinese virus are a case in point.

Many people take the approach of turning a blind eye. It it’s not visible, it’s not a problem. Exporting waste to poor countriers in Africa and Asia is common-place, and this has also been proposed as a solution for the disposal of nuclear waste. Organised crime has often got involved in the waste business because it is profitable and because there is limited oversight of those involved. Usually that’s because people would rather not know what goes on.  

A methodological approach is required to measure the various impacts of waste disposal. Just as fossil fuels and renewables have been evaluated using the yard-stick of life-cycle analysis, a holistic approach to waste disposal that would provide objective metrics about who is affected is required. Above all, there needs to be transparency among the companies and institutions involved in waste disposal. Local councils cannot hide behind the promises of their contractors, but should actively monitor their activities.   

Energy Efficiency

Improving your own carbon footprint is obviously a positive step, and much can be done by simply improving energy efficiency, particularly where grants are available from local or central government.

But it’s also human nature to do nothing when you see other people doing nothing. And it’s just as much a human failing to feel smug about your own contribution and to disdain others who you perceive to not be doing as much as you.


Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency can be measured easily, and improvements are often not nearly as costly as people think.

Energy efficiency is not just about improving how your boiler works. Enormous energy savings can be made by businesses, by managing the activities of employees in the heating and illumination of offices, but also by monitoring energy use in manufacturing processes, particularly those that are energy intensive such as ceramics or metal-smelting. 

Societal Change

Improving your own carbon footprint is obviously a positive step, and much can be done by simply improving energy efficiency, particularly where grants are available from local or central government.

But it’s also human nature to do nothing when you see other people doing nothing. And it’s just as much a human failing to feel smug about your own contribution and to disdain others who you perceive to not be doing as much as you.


Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency can be measured easily, and improvements are often not nearly as costly as people think.

IEA says $48 trillion energy investment needed to 2035

The International Energy Agency said the world needs $48 trillion in investment to meet its energy needs to 2035.
In a special report issued June 3, the IEA said today’s annual investment in energy supply of $1.6 trillion needs to rise steadily over the coming decades towards $2 trillion to meeting soaring energy demand.
Meanwhile, annual spending on energy efficiency, measured against a 2012 baseline, needs to rise from $130 billion today to more than $550 billion by 2035.
Accurate pricing is key to making sure that investment gets to where it’s needed, according to the report.
IEA Maria van der Hoeven said: “There is a real risk of shortfalls, with knock-on effects on regional or global energy security, as well as the risk that investments are misdirected because environmental impacts are not properly reflected in prices.”
Of the cumulative global investment bill to 2035 of $48 trillion in the report’s main scenario, around $40 trillion is in energy supply and the remainder in energy efficiency. Of the investment in energy supply, $23 trillion is in fossil fuel extraction, transport and oil refining; almost $10 trillion is in power generation, of which low-carbon technologies – renewables ($6 trillion) and nuclear ($1 trillion) – make up the lion’s share; and a further $7 trillion in transmission and distribution.
More than half of the energy-supply investment is needed just to keep production at today’s levels, that is, to compensate for declining oil and gas fields and to replace power plants and other equipment that reach the end of their productive life.
The $8 trillion of investment in energy efficiency is concentrated in the main consuming markets, the European Union, North America and China: 90% is spent in the transport and buildings sectors.