Doing the (Green) Job Right

While the forecast for jobs is mixed, clean energy has proven to boost jobs in India and around the world. Growth in the renewable energy sector has the potential to meet India’s priorities of job creation while advancing energy security and fighting climate change.
Credit: India green jobs coefficients (number of job-years per megawatt). NRDC and CEEW, 2017.

Co-authored with Madhura Joshi

With election season in full swing, jobs are a major topic in India. While the forecast for jobs is mixed, clean energy has proven to boost jobs in India and around the world. Growth in the renewable energy sector has the potential to meet India’s priorities of job creation while advancing energy security and fighting climate change. Clean jobs in India are a big focus at the Intersolar conference this week in Mumbai.

With an average age of 27 in the Indian market, job creation is a key focus of the National Solar Mission, launched in 2010. Employment generation is also the aim of India’s goals to achieve 175 GW of installed renewable energy by 2022, including 100 GW of installed solar energy.

NRDC and CEEW Jobs Analysis

In a pioneering effort in 2014, NRDC and our partner the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) conducted the first analyses on employment opportunities for India’s solar and wind energy markets (links to all our reports are listed below). Our analysis highlights that achieving India’s 175GW renewable energy target has the potential to employ over 300,000 workers and create 1 million employment opportunities by 2022.

The clean jobs analysis aims to better understand the actual and potential job opportunities in solar and wind markets. We conducted surveys with India’s major solar and wind companies, developers, and manufacturers to collect accurate, market-based information on job creation. In recent years, the analysis has deepened to determine short-term and long-term job-creation potential of renewable energy and translated them into figures on actual full-time employment and workforce requirements.

At the heart of the analysis is the coefficients for the number of jobs (full-time equivalent) per megawatt of energy. According to the analysis:

  • Rooftop solar projects: 24.72 job-years per MW
  • Ground-mounted solar projects: 3.45 job-years per MW
  • Wind projects: 1.27 job-years per MW
  • Solar photovoltaic module manufacturing: 2.60 job-years per MW


The coefficients for number of job-years per megawatt provide a reliable estimate of the number and types of clean jobs created for every megawatt of installed capacity of these projects. These coefficients have been used by several groups in India on deepening research on clean energy jobs.

To demonstrate the range of activities and clean energy jobs created, NRDC and partners drafted a series of case studies that were released by Minister Suresh Prabhu. For instance, our case study on Kiran Energy’s 20 MW solar plant in Rajasthan, showed that the project generated a total of 180.8 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs, primarily for highly skilled personnel and construction workers. An important finding from the analysis is that the construction phase yielded the largest number of jobs, and potentially more than manufacturing.   

Connecting Jobs to Livelihoods with the Skills Council

To develop a skilled workforce and meet the needs of the renewable industry, the Government of India established the Skills Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) under the National Skill Development Mission in 2015. NRDC and CEEW are partnering with the Skills Council to help assess the skills gaps in the sector and support the government in the development of a skilled workforce ready for a transitioning energy sector.

During the Skills Council Summit on jobs earlier this year, NRDC and our partners SCGJ and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), released a case study on how skill development programs helped in scaling the use of solar for salt production among women salt-farmers in Gujarat. The training programs developed by SEWA helped the women salt-farmers to make real the direct and indirect benefits of the clean energy intervention.

NRDC and partner studies work to fill a critical gap. For instance, a response to a parliamentary question in July 2018 relied on our analysis to discuss green jobs in India. The International Labour Organization in its World Employment Outlook 2018 highlighted our jobs analysis to demonstrate how a better understanding of workforce requirements and skill identification can help in developing and tailoring skill development courses. The International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Renewable Energy Jobs Annual Review 2016 and REMAP Renewable Energy Prospects for India, 2017 also cited our clean energy jobs analysis. Our clean energy jobs analysis has also been cited and used in a number of briefs such as the COBENEFITS project in the context of Germany’s International Climate Initiative (IKI), a brief for Global Sustainable Development Report – 2016 update, and several articles and blogs by national and international publications. 

What’s Next on the Clean Energy Jobs Front?

But there’s a lot more still to do. The use of our work by multiple organizations show an interest in better understanding the scope, nature, and the extent of opportunities in the renewable energy sector. It has also helped kickstart further research on jobs in the renewable energy sector in India. However, studies to better understand the impact of different types of renewable energy projects (grid connected or decentralised, wind or solar), the conditions under which employment-creation potential can be maximised, and whether the sector is on track to meet its potential are required. At the same time, capturing the skills that will be required to help meet the needs of this rapidly evolving sector are essential.

Skill development requirements for the use of solar applications to improve livelihoods, in fact, is going to be a key point of discussion at a panel organized by our partner, SCGJ, at the upcoming Intersolar conference in Mumbai on 4th and 5th April 2019. Intersolar is a biannual event which brings together key stakeholders of the Indian solar sector to discuss the ways in which the marketshare of solar power in India can be increased.

More data and more research can only help in improving the job creating potential of the sector. To do this, NRDC and our partners look forward to working with business, civil society, and government stakeholders to get the job of creating more and better employment done right.


Links to NRDC and Partner Green Jobs Peer-Reviewed Publications


Madhura Joshi leads NRDC's green jobs work based in New Delhi.