07/07/2017 Editorial Simplified 0 comment

Towards a Clean Energy Workforce | Business Standard

The current median age in India is 27.6 years. Over the next 20-25 years, about 600 million additional people will join the workforce. Automation is going to hit annual job growth in almost all existing industries, whether agriculture, construction, textiles or IT. India needs new Clean Energy sources and new types of jobs. Whereas, renewable energy is on a rapid growth trajectory in India.

Job potential in Clean Energy

  • Solar capacity increased from less than 20 megawatts (Mw) in 2010 to above 12,000 Mw (March 2017). In fact, in the last three years, investments in the power sector have been primarily in renewables, accompanied by sharp falls in solar and wind tariffs and increasing investor confidence. Yet, little attention is given to the employment potential in renewable energy.
  • In February 2015, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) had projected that India’s 160,000 Mw of solar and wind targets would generate about 1.3 million full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. These jobs are segmented into technical, financial, legal and regulatory due diligence for business development, preparing engineering designs in the design phase, erecting mounting structures, wind towers, etc. during the construction phase, and regular O&M activities.
  • The seven times greater potential in rooftop projects means that 238,000 people could be employed in this segment. Another 58,000 workers will find jobs in utility-scale solar and 34,000 in wind energy.
  • Decentralised energy also increases the potential for creating jobs locally, giving opportunities to local entrepreneurs or for recruiting workers from near project sites.
  • In addition, new jobs could be created to manufacture solar photovoltaic modules, solar PV installation structures, wind turbines, towers, wind blades, etc.
  • Existing manufacturing industries, which supply balance of plant equipment (transformers, inverters, cables and wires) for solar and wind plants will also provide employment to cater to the growing renewables sector.

Concerns | Clean Energy

  • There is a difference between FTE jobs and a permanent workforce. This is because not all activities require a person to be employed throughout the year. Many jobs are one-time, especially during the initial three phases of the project deployment cycle where employees move from one project to another, as each phase lasts for less than a year. O&M, by contrast, provides full-time jobs through the year.
  • Even though every state has potential for jobs in solar (maximum in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat), wind sector employment is concentrated in seven states (Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh).

Conclusion | Clean Energy

As the sector expands, new employment segments will emerge, such as renewable energy scheduling and forecasting, grid integration and balancing, energy storage, and re-powering and recycling of existing plants. Renewable energy could be at the forefront of new forms of job creation in India. It will need greater attention to decentralised service provision, continuing skilling, and increasing ambitions for clean energy — nationwide and within each state.

Raj Malhotra IAS Study Group.