Make In India: Need for a Skilled Renewables Workforce

Co-authored with Nehmat Kaur. Nehmat and I attended the Make in India Conference in Mumbai, this week.

This week, at the Make in India Conference in Mumbai, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released new analyses by NRDC and CEEW that examines the opportunity, and needed priorities, for developing a skilled workforce in the solar and wind sectors for India to achieve its renewable energy goals.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Make in India conference on Feb 13 at a gala ceremony attended by several heads of states and industry representatives from all over the world. The PM in his opening speech reiterated India's ambitions to build a robust manufacturing sector while reducing the emissions intensity as pledged under the Paris Agreement on climate change. His thoughts on low carbon development were echoed by other dignitaries, including the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who remarked that sustainability spurs job creation, a fact recognized in our analyses of job creation potential from expanding renewables.

CEEW and NRDC's new report - Filling the Skill Gap in India's Clean Energy Market: Solar Energy Focus - finds that scaling up solar and wind energy will add about one million new engineers, technicians, solar installers, maintenance workers and performance data monitors to its workforce while addressing growing energy demands and global climate change.

At his opening address at the MNRE-led renewables session, Minister of State for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal confidently stated that, "renewable energy has arrived in India." In 2010, when India launched the National Solar Mission with a target of 20,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2022, it had less than 20 MW installed. Today, India has crossed 5,000 MW and the government has dramatically increased the solar target to 100,000 MW by 2022. Most recently, at the United Nations' Conference of Parties in December 2015, Prime Minister Modi showed global leadership when he announced that India would lead an International Solar Alliance of more than 120 solar rich countries to facilitate widespread deployment of solar power and development of the supporting ecosystem including knowledge exchange on manufacturing and skills. Two months later, the International Solar Alliance is emerging as the biggest international collaborative initiative on renewable energy. Finance and skills development for large-scale deployment of renewables in India over the next six years are a focus of all discussion around how to advance renewable energy, including the sessions at Make in India.

Discussing the role that the International Solar Alliance could play, experts from international organizations, industry and policymakers at Make In India agreed that development of a strong, skilled workforce for renewables was critical to large-scale deployment in India and globally through knowledge exchange programs within the Alliance. In his presentation, Dr. Arunabha Ghosh noted key findings of the new report, including an analysis of the jobs created in the solar PV sector along with the related skills required in every phase of a solar project, estimating that India would need nearly 210,800 skilled plant design and site engineers and approximately 624,600 semi-and low- skilled technicians for construction, most of whom would be needed to achieve the targeted 40 GW rooftop solar capacity addition.

The employment generation potential of a thriving domestic renewable energy sector in India is immense. Looking ahead, as the government plans to release new comprehensive policies and incentives on manufacturing and finance for the renewables sector, and as part of its effort to lead the International Solar Alliance, India must consider how best to develop the skilled manpower it needs and create millions of new jobs to achieve its own energy and climate goals while setting an example for other nations and industries looking to grow in a similar low-carbon way.

Read more about the report's findings and recommendations on our colleague Anjali Jaiswal's blog

The report, Filling the Skill Gap in India's Clean Energy Market: Solar Energy Focus, is available here.

Nehmat Kaur is a NRDC India Representative based in New Delhi.


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