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  • India is struggling with skyrocketing energy demands, declining energy supplies, and peak load blackouts and shortages that limit energy access.
  • Harnessing clean and renewable energy sources can help meet energy needs in a sustainable way and the growth of wind and solar power in India can be an important driver of job growth.
  • Providing strong policy support and diverse financial mechanisms, and ensuring that the wind and solar industries are learning from each other's experiences, can help both markets grow while increasing clean energy jobs and energy access.
renewable energy in India

© Bhaskar DeolA wind mill in Jath, Maharashtra

With India facing rising fuel prices, threats to energy security, and the need to manage economic growth with pragmatic consideration of climate change, renewable energy offers a critical solution to India's burgeoning energy demand challenges. Further, renewable energy technologies are more labor-intensive than more mechanized fossil fuel technologies, as demonstrated in more mature markets, and can provide a tremendous opportunity to create domestic jobs.

Solar Power

In 2010, as part of its plan to address the urgent and growing demand for energy by advancing clean energy solutions, the Government of India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM or Mission) in 2010 to promote grid-connected and off-grid solar energy. The goal is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy through policies that lead to the deployment of 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2022. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power's installed capacity increased from 17.8 megawatts (MW) in early 2010 to approximately 2,650 MW in March 2014. As India ramps up its solar installations at a rapid rate during the second phase of its Mission, an opportunity exists to increase public support for this potentially transformative energy resource.

The central government has cited job creation as part of its rationale for the Solar Mission. Solar PV is recognized as creating more jobs per unit of energy produced than any other energy source; thus it potentially represents a much needed solution to unemployment in the face of India's burgeoning population and labor force. As India moves toward its 2022 target, the Indian government must not only have a thorough understanding of the employment opportunities created by the solar industry, but also factor in this job creation potential while designing and implementing clean energy policies at the state and national levels. A rooftop solar project in Haryana to power production at a motorcycle factory for the largest manufacturer of two-wheelers in the world and a solar plant in Rajasthan demonstrate the employment potential of solar power.

Coupled with successful state-level policies in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Mission has played a pivotal role in making the industry successful. Abundant policy instruments, such as feed-in tariffs (FiTs) and accelerated depreciation (AD), have been deployed at the state and national levels. These instruments have been vital to the rapid scale-up achieved by this industry so far and are now ready for adoption on a wider scale.

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Wind Power

The Indian government recognizes that wind energy can be a significant clean energy resource. Supported by initial government policies, India is already the fifth-largest wind energy producer, achieving 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind power. Yet, much more can be achieved. India's wind energy production can grow at least four to five times its current level to achieve the country's 100 GW wind energy potential. To achieve the higher potential, the government announced plans in 2014 to launch a National Wind Energy Mission.

Designing strong policies and programs that attract investment is essential to scale wind power to reach 100 GW and to breathe new life into India's wind energy market. Further, with expansion in installed capacity, the wind industry can emerge as an important driver of jobs for the Indian workforce, both skilled and unskilled. A wind power project in Maharashtra highlights the potential of wind power to contribute to job growth in India.

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last revised 8/21/2014

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