October 11, 2023

Electrification Expansion: What It Takes to Be an Electrician in This Booming Market

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11 Min. Read
This article was originally published July 5, 2022 and was updated October 11, 2023

A new energy model is emerging as businesses, governments, and consumers come together to adopt electrification and more sustainable practices and technologies.

As a society, electrification allows us to leave fossil fuels behind with a larger, overarching goal to reduce harmful emissions and build a cleaner, more efficient economy while enjoying the many benefits of advancements in technology.

While significant progress is being made, we’re still years away from fully realizing this goal of a net-zero society, and the energy transition will require investments and effort to achieve the ultimate goal of a sustainable, emissions-free world. Electrification is a booming market for electricians and as the technology continues to advance, it’s a crucial time to examine the market and consider adding additional services to meet this growing demand.

Here’s what electricians need to know about electrification and how they can use this market opportunity to grow their businesses and unlock opportunities in the future.

What Is Electrification?

Experts agree that we will run out of oil by 2070. Finding alternatives to fossil fuels has been a priority for the past decade and has played a major contribution in the rise of electrification.

Electrification is a societal change in how we power our economy and day-to-day life. Driving EVs instead of gas-powered cars is a significant component of this change, but we’re also replacing old gas appliances and focusing on clean energy. The ultimate goal is to build a new power infrastructure that can meet the increased demand for energy, but this will require significant work by electricians, utilities, homeowners, businesses, and every level of the government.

Currently, 60% of U.S. electricity comes from fossil fuels. The government is investing in developing a modern power infrastructure, and with this new grid, 80% of electricity will come from clean sources by 2030.

Electrification also means building a modern grid that can distribute power without losses and keep up with the higher demand. This is especially important as electricity demand could increase by as much as 14 to 22% before 2050, making these grid upgrades a priority for the sustainability and resiliency of our electrical infrastructure.

As we embrace electrification and invest in new power solutions as a society, new opportunities will arise for electrical contractors.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world and includes wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal power.

Production of clean energy is growing fast, with the annual global capacity installed reaching 440 GW in 2023. This number represents an increase of 107 GW from 2022, and with solar accounting for approximately two-thirds of these new installations, this is a key opportunity for electrical contractors.

The residential solar market alone will reach $17 billion in value in 2023, and commercial projects are also creating new opportunities as more businesses look toward an electrified future.

As a solar electrician, you can wire and connect panels to integrate this power into a building’s power supply or battery storage system while also adding additional services through maintenance and repairs.

This integration is a crucial challenge for renewable energy, especially as solar, wind, and other systems often create varying voltage levels, and correctly installing and integrating these systems will require additional expertise. A skilled electrician can design systems that use inverters, storage, and other elements to create a stable, safe, and energy-efficient solution.

As an electrician, you can also create value by incorporating digital elements into these systems. For instance, smart solar controllers can optimize energy production, improve stability, and cater to individuals and businesses looking for autonomous systems that require minimal input.

Clean energy jobs have already grown by 3.9% in 2023. As a renewable energy electrician, there are many opportunities to explore, starting with investing in training and certifications that enable you to offer services for these new systems.

EVs and Charging

On a global scale, annual EV sales are up 35% in 2023. With over 3 million EVs on the roads, electricians can grow their businesses by exploring EV charging.

For most EV owners, at-home charging is the most convenient option, but achieving a viable charging speed requires installing a Level 2 charging station. Capable of delivering up to 19 kW, these stations run on a 240V circuit and will always require a professional, licensed electrician to perform a safe EV charger installation.

EV adoption will only continue to grow as more automakers transition to manufacturing electric-only models. Contractors can offer advice and information for customers looking to make the switch or who are considering installing Level 2 charging stations at home, ensure EV charger installations are safe and to code, and upgrade electric panels to support EV charging or greater home electrification when needed.

Additionally, there are also opportunities to explore at the commercial level as more businesses consider investing in EVs and EV charging with use cases like fleet electrification and offering charging to employees or customers as a perk. Between residential and commercial customers, the total value of the EV charging market could exceed $111 billion by 2028.

The next generation of EVs will also have bidirectional charging capabilities, allowing EV drivers to use the battery in their EV to power their homes and even businesses. Bidirectional charging is one of the most anticipated features in newer EVs, but to take advantage of it, your customers will need additional equipment installed.

Catering to EV owners can also open the door for additional electrification projects, ranging from panel upgrades for a second EV charger to support another electric vehicle, to installing a solar array to charge an EV with clean, sustainable energy.

Requirements for contractors vary from one state to another. However, obtaining an EVITP certification is a great place to start if you want to install EV chargers. It will also allow you to work on projects that receive federal funding. These projects can include electrification for public transit, school buses, and more.

Battery Storage

The demand for battery storage is increasing as more individuals and businesses invest in electrification.

Local battery storage gives users peace of mind while making them independent from the grid. With a nanogrid in place, users can also integrate clean sources of energy into their system and rely on solar or wind power to charge their battery.

There are also important financial considerations as more utility providers adopt the time-of-use billing model. Instead of drawing power at a higher rate during peak usage times, battery users can switch to their local energy storage solution to reduce energy costs.

As a result, homeowners are investing in whole-home backup batteries. More extensive solutions known as Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are also gaining popularity. These systems can store power for an entire neighborhood and could be crucial in supporting the grid during peak usage time. They could also keep up with the increased demand linked to EV charging.

The BESS market could grow at 26.7% a year soon. Installing and maintaining these battery systems will create new opportunities for electricians.

Microgrids

Microgrids are local systems that can produce and store power. This trend is closely connected to the rise of clean energy and battery storage.

A microgrid typically combines different power production systems, such as solar arrays owned by residents and businesses. It also includes a storage solution and an interface with the primary power grid.

The purpose of a microgrid is to supply local users with clean energy from nearby systems when possible and switch to the primary grid when necessary. This approach could be the key to building a sustainable EV charging network.

In addition to working in conjunction with other parties to design these systems, electrical contractors can also provide maintenance or upgrade services alongside installations.

Microgrids can be complex, and you’ll have to learn about integrating clean energy systems to work on these systems. You’ll also have to work with battery storage and create systems that send and receive grid power or manage loads with digital components.

There is a learning curve to understanding, installing, and working on these systems, but it’s a worthwhile opportunity, with the microgrid market projected to grow by more than 16% annually.

More Electrification Trends

Other trends are creating new opportunities for electricians:

  • The Inflation Reduction Act created rebates for electric appliances. Replacing old gas dryers and cooking ranges can be a great source of revenue. It also allows you to connect with customers interested in electrification.
  • Smart homes are on the rise. Consumers save energy by embracing automated solutions but often need help installing and configuring smart thermostats, smart lights, and other devices.
  • Autonomous robots could be the next big electrification trend. These robots could perform various tasks, from deliveries to picking orders in warehouses. Installing charging stations for these robots will be a lucrative business opportunity.
  • EVs are just the beginning. We could see electric trucks, boats, and planes soon.

How Electrical Contractors Can Explore New Opportunities

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% increase in employment for electricians. You can take full advantage of these new opportunities by focusing on training, partnership, and business growth strategies.

Top Challenges for Contractors

Before expanding the scope of the services you offer, it’s important to assess potential challenges you might encounter.

Changing regulations and standards are creating difficulties for electrical contractors who are offering new services. While some areas lack standards, other aspects of the regulatory environment are evolving quickly and can be challenging to keep up with.

The same is true of the equipment. Manufacturers are developing new technologies and products at a fast pace, and familiarizing yourself with the latest electrification devices should be an ongoing commitment.

Safety is another potential challenge that you’ll have to address by updating your best practices and offering more training to your employees and partners. For instance, clean energy systems often have high voltages and carry an increased risk of arc flashes.

From a sales and marketing point of view, presenting your audience with innovative solutions can be challenging due to the lack of familiarity with these new technologies. Demand and trends can also vary from one state to another, calling for a thorough assessment of your local market before rolling out new services.

Forming New Partnerships

Expanding your business to offer electrification services is a significant step, but you don’t have to do it alone. Having the right partner by your side can make a difference and help you unlock more opportunities.

An experienced and well-established business partner can connect you with qualified leads who have a strong interest in electrification solutions and who are close to making a purchase decision.

Having a qualified and industry-recognized partner can also help with credibility as working with an electrification leader will establish brand trust right away and make you more likely to win bids.

A partner can also help you get the latest equipment at a competitive cost through a purchasing program, provide assistance with training, certifications, and other professional development opportunities, as well as helping you build your business by unlocking new growth opportunities.

Collaborations and Partnerships Within the EV Charging Ecosystem

EV charging is an area of focus that makes sense for contractors looking for new opportunities. The public and private charging infrastructure is growing fast, and there is will consistent work available in the future.

Automakers can make great partners. These organizations are playing an essential part in electrification with up to 400 new EV models slated for release in 2023. Partnering with an automaker can help you become more familiar with their unique EV lineup and put you in a position to discuss the benefits of at-home charging in light of these features.

A local dealership can also be an excellent partner. As more dealerships sell EVs, they can help with lead generation since a new EV owner will likely be interested in at-home charging.

You can also reach out to charging equipment manufacturers and suppliers. These companies can give you discounts on the equipment you need, and you can then pass on the savings to your customers. You’ll become an expert and be able to recommend the best charging products with confidence. Eventually, manufacturers could develop better products thanks to your feedback.

Partnering With Qmerit

Qmerit is a connectivity hub that brings together electricians, suppliers, automakers, utilities, and customers. As an electrification leader, our goal is to make the latest solutions accessible for a more sustainable future and our track-record of success across all industries is a testament to the quality of service we provide for our partners, customers, and all members of the Qmerit Certified Installer Network.

As the largest network of certified electrical contractors trained in EV charger installations and other electrification solutions and services, joining our network means having access to qualified leads from top automakers, EVSE manufacturers, fleets, utilities, and other premium companies. Qmerit is the most trusted provider of EV charging services and other electrification technologies in North America, providing instant credibility to qualified electrical contractors who pass our rigorous background inspections and meet all training requirements.

We also work with suppliers to make affordable equipment available. You can pass on the savings to your customers to offset the upfront cost of the installation project. Our network also includes utilities, commercial charging networks, and more.

Qmerit can help you grow your businesses with training resources designed to help you keep up with the latest technology, evolving safety standards, and with a dedicated support team to help you grow your business to meet burgeoning demand for electrification services.

Ready to take the next step? Download our free e-Guide to learn more about our EV charging stations installer network and contact Qmerit today!

Author: David Santillo David Santillo Senior Vice President, Contractor Support