The transition to sustainable energy is creating numerous career opportunities for us as students and we are lucky to be in Groningen which has always been a pioneer in the Dutch energy industry. Groningen is a hub for gas production in Europe and the Netherlands has always been seen as a country that is pioneering sustainable energy. With the job demand growing in this sector, the University of Groningen has taken note and is now offering opportunities to add energy studies to our programs. Along with the opening of the new Energy Academy Europe building on Zernike campus there is now the option to add an Energy Certificate alongside your master. Out of desire to share the news of the Energy Certificate, as well as a personal interest in the sustainable energy sector, I decided to find out more about the program.
The energy sector can be characterized as a quickly changing competitive environment as old energy companies are challenged by more-sustainable newcomers, but also one with high barriers of entry...
Firstly, if you are interested in this energy focused program, the Energy Certificate is offered only to master students and is earned through taking three electives: Energy Transition & Innovation (Block II A), Economics of Regulating Markets (Block II B), and Energy & Finance (Block I B). Anywhere from one to all three courses are offered as options that count toward your required ECTS, depending on your master program. These include the Finance, International Financial Management, and the Organizational & Management Control master. Another option for completing the certificate is finishing two of the mentioned courses and writing your thesis about an energy related topic. In addition to the courses, participants will also have chances to go on trips to main industry players as well as interact through guest lectures by energy professionals.
The courses in the Energy Certificate program feature a balance of topics in economics and business that relate to the energy sector. Energy Transition & Innovation focuses on the changing competitive environment in the sector as old energy companies are challenged by more-sustainable newcomers and how important collaboration is given the high barriers and costs of the sector. Economics of Regulating Markets focuses also on markets that deal with natural monopolies and the economic theory associated with regulating them. Because the energy market falls into this category, it will be used for many real-world examples and there will be a chance to visit energy companies during the course.
To find out more about the course newly added course Energy & Finance in the MSc Finance curriculum, I spoke with the course coordinator, Dr. Gijsbert Zwart. The course will introduce students to the energy market and the type of financial instrument that are traded in them. Investments in the energy market, presented as real options, are also a main focus point in the course as Dr. Zwart says that they are “typically large and irreversible investments, and occur in an uncertain environment.” This focus on real options ties in well with the course Derivative Instruments, which is also taught in Block IA, as both will focus on how to mathematically model, analyze and value real options.
I believe that the start of the Energy Certificate program comes at the right time, as 2016 has been a groundbreaking year for clean energy. Bloomberg reported that the number of clean energy jobs worldwide rose by 5% in 2015 and they expect the number of jobs to grow from 8.1 to 24 million by 2030. In the US, the number of solar energy jobs has now surpassed both oil, gas and coal extraction jobs this year. This gap can be expected to grow larger as oil prices continue a 2 year slump leading to large job cuts around the world. Additionally, more nations are turning their focus to climate change and costs of sustainable energy will likely drop with new technology. Students can be thrilled that they have the tools like the Energy Certificate offered to them that serve as preparation for a career in a high growth sector like clean energy.
For more information on the Energy Certificate and the underlying courses, see the links below.