The students at the heart of the green jobs boom
The number of students on renewables-related courses in Scotland has soared by 70% in four years, figures reveal.
Scottish Renewables found that 22,000 undergraduates were studying subjects which cover the sector, ranging from engineering to maths.
The same survey in 2019 reported around 13,000 young people studying in similar areas.
Scottish Renewables said it demonstrated the attractiveness of the industry.
The figures come from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to 33 colleges and universities.
The research also showed the sector is currently dominated by men, with only 28% of students female.
Ellice Mentiplay was among the minority: she is now a commercial graduate with EDF Renewables in Edinburgh.
The 24-year-old was born in Perth, but her father's job in oil and gas meant she lived all over the world before finally returning to Scotland.
Her degree at Abertay University was in environmental science which she followed with a masters in energy, society and sustainability at Edinburgh.
'It is going to be huge'
On wind energy, she said: "I think offshore, particularly in Scotland, is just going to be huge in the future, especially with developments into things like floating offshore wind.
"I wasn't really aware when I was younger that that was a job career path that I could go down.
"Working in renewables means that I can also help the UK transition over to clean net zero energy."
EDF runs Scotland's only nuclear power station at Torness. It is currently building the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm, off the coast of Fife.
It is expected to generate its first electricity this year.
And on the quayside at Dundee harbour, stacks of towers and turbine blades are waiting to be installed.
Millie Anderson is a fourth year student in mechanical engineering with renewables at Dundee University.
She is from the city and has no family connection with the energy sector but has always had a keen interest in engineering.
The expanding nature of the renewables sector was the key selling point, as she believes the petroleum side is probably not going to grow.
She said: "I definitely think it's more exciting than daunting because you've got so much more potential. It might mean certain things don't work out but that's part of the fun of it - figuring out what works.
"It's not 'same old, same old.' It's different challenges, new challenges."
The industry body Scottish Renewables said wind, solar and hydropower already provided the "vast majority" of Scotland's electricity and contributed more than £5.6bn to the economy.
From their FOI figures, the most popular courses are engineering, with 5,373 students, followed by business and management.
The colleges with the highest number of students studying renewables-related courses are Glasgow Caledonian, St Andrews and Glasgow.
For Aaron Wilson, from Dunfermline, it was a family trip to a hydro-power station as a child which sparked his interest in energy.
The 22-year-old is now studying a masters in sustainability at Dundee and wants to enter into environmental consultancy covering areas of policy and law.
He said: "At the start I definitely believed that it might be difficult for me to actually be able to get a job but now I've seen the growth and it's becoming much more prominent.
"Even consultancy companies have grown rapidly."
Aaron believes there is a generational shift in attitudes towards tackling climate change through sustainability, and that younger people want roles which will help the energy transition.
A report by Skills Development Scotland found that in 2021 there were about 100,000 "green jobs" although it said the figure could be far smaller.
It said identifying the true number was difficult for many reasons, not least because there is no formal definition of a "green job."
Some might be directly linked to sustainability or renewables engineering, whereas others might have greener elements, such as a plumber installing heat pumps.
But it said almost 40% of all vacancies could now be described as "green jobs".
Johnjo Morgan, 23, is in the second of a three-year apprenticeship in automotive engineering.
He is a self-confessed 'petrol head' and landed a dream job restoring classic cars at Errol in Perthshire.
One day a week he studies at Dundee and Angus College on a course which now includes teaching students how to work on electric vehicles.
He has noticed an increase in people converting older cars to run with battery-powered electric motors.
Johnjo explained: "It's grown in the last two years. It didn't exist and now everyone's starting to hear about it so I'd imagine it's going to get bigger and bigger.
"Older cars were more interesting with petrol and diesel. The engines were more interesting but they're of their time. The future is definitely electric."