Unsustainable energy consumption is taking a toll on the planet’s climate, eco-functions, and present (as well as future) well-being around the world. With so much work to be done, overseas environmental organizations specializing in renewable energy are frequently in need of volunteers to join their team.
Volunteering in renewable energy gives you the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with environmentalists and make a direct impact in the field of sustainability. Whether it's working on hydropower systems in landlocked countries, helping spread the adoption of solar energy generators in countries that lack the infrastructure for electricity or helping a company on the cutting edge of a new technology, the opportunities are surprising and nearly endless.
As an added bonus, you’ll find that the overseas destinations popular for renewable energy volunteer programs will offer unique cultural perspectives that will enhance and inform your already expanding worldview.
Where to Go
When your heart is set on a cause more than a specific destination, it can be tough to figure out where exactly you should be going to make the most impact. Fortunately, there are several countries making strides in the field of renewable energy, in large part thanks to local organizations. With increased concerns about climate change inspiring nations to invest in renewable energy, volunteers are vital to supporting the sustainability of these programs.
In Central America, volunteers can lend a hand at a number of programs geared towards renewable energy. You can make everyday life more environmentally-friendly in Nicaragua by helping to install solar panels on local infrastructure. Or, volunteer organizations in Costa Rica may need your help maintaining the country’s wind farms to harness turbine power.
As a place to live and volunteer, Central America is chock-full of places to go and things to see. Everything from lush rainforests to colonial cities provide unique opportunities for fun weekend getaways. And if you’re adept at Spanish, you will find that programs in this region are perfect for honing your language skills.
India also has its share of renewable energy volunteer opportunities. Like Nicaragua, you can help introduce and upkeep solar energy practices in the country’s rural communities. If you’re interested in biomass power, volunteer programs here also give you the chance to turn agricultural waste and other bio-materials into usable energy.
In your free time, India’s iconic sites and famous cities should keep you occupied. From the Taj Mahal to the popular destinations of Mumbai or New Delhi, there’s plenty to see and do. And whether you prefer bustling cities or intimate, rural communities, you can enjoy a hands-on cultural experience while volunteering overseas in India.
Geothermal and solar energy volunteer programs are really active in Kenya. As a volunteer, you can work on maintaining the nation’s many solar power systems. Or, you can help tap into the country’s underground geothermal resources to generate electricity. Geothermal power is on the rise in Kenya, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved in this unique source of renewable energy.
Kenya is considered by many to be a model nation when it comes to renewable energy. Per capita, the country has implemented the most solar functions on the continent as of today, and, with their initiatives in geothermal power, Kenya shows no signs of slowing down. This means that you’re likely to learn a ton by participating in programs here. And if your heart is set on volunteering in Africa, Kenya is a gateway to this unique region of the world.
Renewable energy and climate change are so intertwined that you’ll find the two often come as a pair in overseas volunteer opportunities. With the planet’s temperature on the rise, volunteering in renewable energy allows you to maintain current sustainable practices and initiate ones for the future.
Solar Power & Other Sources of Renewable Energy
When you think of renewable energy, solar power is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Around the globe, wherever the sun touches (which is pretty much everywhere, except for Antarctica a couple of weeks every year), solar energy is a viable source of power. As a result, it’s also one of the most popular renewable energy program types for volunteers.
While not as popular as solar, there are specific volunteer organizations for the other types of renewable energy. And sometimes, two or more types might be part of the same program. While countries like Peru and Germany have the right regional conditions for volunteer organizations that focus solely on turbine power, other locations might need volunteers to work on hydropower, geothermal, or biomass plants.
No matter where you go, volunteering overseas with environmental organizations that specialize in renewable energy will give you the opportunity to learn more about how other nations harness their unique renewable resources to generate energy. And for the record, some facilities in Antarctica do have solar panels installed. But your volunteer work will probably take you to one of the other six continents.
General Environmental Programs
In some cases, volunteer programs may combine renewable energy with other environmental work. After all, one eco-cause can easily affect another. This means you could be installing solar panels in the morning and planting trees in the afternoon (hopefully far from the solar panels). Or, you could be working with farmers to perfect their biomass power production and maintain regular agricultural functions. Multi-faceted programs like this allow you to gain experience as well make an impact across several fields of environmentalism.
When volunteering in renewable energy, you might even have the opportunity to take on an educational role. This could entail teaching local students about the function of the solar panels on their school’s roof. Your guidance might also be necessary to make sure communities understand the tools they’ve been equipped with to carry on practicing sustainability. At the end of the day, everything starts with spreading the word about the importance of renewable energy.
Planning Your Trip
Now that you have a better idea of the top locations for volunteering in renewable energy and the various types of programs available, it’s time to start working out the finer points. From safety to visas, there’s a lot to consider when planning a trip to volunteer overseas in renewable energy.
How to Choose a Renewable Energy Volunteer Abroad Program
With so many types of renewable energy volunteer opportunities and options of destinations, selecting the right program requires a number of considerations. To start, it would be helpful pin down how long you aim to volunteer for and to set a budget. From there, you can take a look at program lengths and fees, weighing these elements alongside the program itself.
Housekeeping stuff aside, the most important decision-making factor is the type of program and the location. If you intend to pursue a career in the field of renewable energy, selecting a program in your desired path will certainly be helpful. So if you have an interest in geothermal power, pack up for Kenya! With the right program, you’re going to make an incredible impact on sustainable energy.
Healthy & Safety
One other element to keep in mind when selecting the right renewable energy volunteer program is medical insurance. Most organizations will equip their participants with some type of health coverage for the duration of the program. But if you intend to stay in your destination longer, or venture to nearby countries on weekend excursions, you’ll need to look into additional options.
In the field, renewable energy is a relatively safe venture for volunteers. That doesn’t mean you can start jumping up and down on a ladder while installing solar panels, so exercise common sense when at work. Always adhere to the instructions of your program supervisors and local officials. As experts in renewable energy and the surrounding area, they’ll be able to spot potentially harmful scenarios before you can.
Other Need to Know
Depending on the length of your renewable energy volunteer program and the program destination, you may need to acquire a visa or other type of entry permit. Some countries will allow you to stay up to 90 days without a visa, and others require one for any type of entry, whether it be short or long-term volunteering. After you’ve honed in on your desired location, exact visa requirements will be easier to pinpoint.
Often with renewable energy volunteer programs, you’ll be working directly with local officials to strengthen the community’s sustainable energy consumption. As such, knowledge of the local language will be helpful, and well-developed interpersonal skills are valuable for overcoming any cultural communication barriers. And of course, a passion for renewable energy will bond you to fellow participants and the local community, making the program more beneficial for everyone involved.