MUMBAI – India’s goal to dramatically expand solar energy could trigger a green jobs boom adding one million new engineers, technicians, solar installers, maintenance workers and performance data monitors to its workforce, according to a new report released in connection with a “Make in India” conference in Mumbai.
The report by Natural Resources Defense Council and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water outlines the types of new jobs and new training facilities and institutes needed for India to reach its ambitious national target to add 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar energy by 2022.
New jobs that would be needed includes up to 210,800 skilled plant design and site engineers; 624,600 semi-skilled technicians for construction of solar projects; and 182,400 workers in various low-skilled jobs such as ongoing operations and maintenance for both rooftop solar and utility-scale solar projects, according to the report released this week.
“India has a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate how a growing economy can scale up green energy—creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and boosting renewable power—and protect our climate while meeting rising energy demands,” said Nehmat Kaur, NRDC India Representative. “This comprehensive assessment of the variety of jobs, skills and training that needed as India expands its solar industry will help realize Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to transition to a low-carbon economy.”
The report’s findings come on the heels of Modi’s announcement in December at the Paris climate talks that India was launching an International Solar Alliance (ISA). The alliance of more than 120 solar-rich countries aims to facilitate widespread deployment of solar power and supporting knowledge exchange on manufacturing and skills.
The India-led alliance has already met twice, demonstrating the momentum India is building to reach its climate commitments. In addition to India’s solar leadership, the prime minister is inaugurating the “Make in India” conference in Mumbai this weekend to boost renewable energy and national manufacturing capabilities.
“Make in India is not just about increasing domestic manufacturing, but also about preparing a market that is conducive to the scaling up of renewable energy capacity,” said Shri Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India. “The International Solar Alliance also recognizes the importance of capacity building, with skills and training being central to its work. In this context, this timely report outlines the nature of skills essential for increasing renewable energy deployment in India and lays out a roadmap to upgrade these skills.”
The report, Filling the Skill Gap in India’s Clean Energy Market: Solar Energy Focus, provides details about how India’s 100 GW solar target would generate more than 1 million jobs by 2022, primarily in two key phases of a solar project’s lifecycle: construction and commissioning (806,800, accounting for 72% of new solar jobs) and ongoing operations and maintenance (263,400, 23% of new solar jobs). These projections do not include jobs created in the manufacturing sector, another significant jobs opportunity. Forty solar companies were surveyed to formulate this analysis, in addition to multiple roundtable discussions with industry and government representatives.
The new report also describes the institutions and programs needed, including key skills and locations, to train and educate this new clean energy workforce. Recognizing the vast number of jobs that a scaled up clean energy market would create, the Government of India has formed a Skill Council on Green Jobs and introduced several domestic initiatives such as Skill India that support manufacturing, job creation and skill development.
Dr. Praveen Saxena, CEO of the Skill Council for Green Jobs, emphasized that, “The CEEW-NRDC report is giving us insight into the solar and wind skill requirements. In fact, it sets goals for the Skill Council and gives us a roadmap.”
Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, added, “Without Skill India, it would be difficult to meet Make in India’s targets for the renewable sector. There is a clear need for improved training and certification programs, which are accessible to workers of varying backgrounds and skillsets in all states. Policymakers should also consider establishing at least one prominent solar training institute in each of the renewable energy clusters of the country.”
Anjali Jaiswal, NRDC India Director, said: “Renewable energy offers a critical solution to rising energy demands, threats to energy security and the impacts of climate change. Innovative clean energy solutions, including large solar parks and rooftop solar panels in dense urban areas, can help solve these challenges, while increasing energy access, creating jobs, and reducing harmful pollution.”