On the Cutting Edge: Solar Laboratory Technicians

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This is the kind of job most people imagine when they think about a career in renewable energy.  Solar Laboratory Technicians are the scientists working in research & development laboratories for renewable power companies.  They constantly research and invent new and better technologies to generate and utilize green energy sources.



Specifically, Solar Laboratory Technicians pioneer new ways to improve and diversify ways of gatheringistock_000001227881medium sunlight, turning it into electricity, storing it, and utilizing that energy.  Similar research & development laboratory positions exist, however, in other areas of the renewable energy economy.  Green power companies involved in wind power, geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, and biomass gases all need research scientists and technology architects.  And this isn't even mentioning the many other new alternative energy technologies that are currently being explored, but have yet to become well-known household terms.


Obviously, being a Solar Laboratory Technician requires a large amount of detailed knowledge of solar electronics.  The most common and well-known type of solar power systems are photovoltaic solar arrays  that convert sunlight into electricity.  The development of solar cells that can generate more electricity, automatic tracking systems to follow the movement of the sun to optimize the efficiency of solar arrays, and batteries that can store more electricity for longer periods of time are all things that Solar Laboratory Technicians research, build, and test.


There are many other types of non-electric solar power, however, that a Solar Laboratory Technician should be familiar with.  An example is thermal solar cells, which convert sunlight into heat.  Other areas include passive solar systems, an area of research that seeks to optimize variables such as location, weather, architecture, windows, and insulation to heat or cool a building by either absorbing or reflecting sunlight.  Finally, another form of solar energy utilizes focusing lenses and mirrors to concentrate sunlight and thermal energy.  Applications of this technology include warming homes, heating water, and even boiling water for electricity-producing steam turbines.


Requirements for Becoming a Solar Laboratory Technician


istock_000010581229smallresizedObviously, Solar Laboratory Technicians must possess a greater knowledge of solar power systems that solar panel installer-roofer or maintenance technician.  In fact, Solar Laboratory Technicians require some of highest education and most thorough training of all careers in the green energy economy.  Solar Laboratory Technicians need to understand applied and theoretical science, as well was the design, development, engineering, construction, and testing of electronics, particularly electrical power systems.


Solar Laboratory Technicians should also have practical experience using scientific equipment, tools, and instrumentation.  Advanced mathematics, including calculus and statistical methods and applications, will most likely be a prerequisite.  The ability to read, interpret, analyze, and compile scientific data, charts, and graphs is also necessary.


To become a Solar Laboratory Technician, you would need at least a Bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry, engineering, or material science.  A Graduate degree in any of there fields would be better.  Some companies might also accept an Associate's degree if combined with at least two or more years of work experience in this field.



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