India's renewable energy sector to employ one million people by 2030

by IANS |

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) An important component of its climate action plan, India's renewable energy sector could potentially employ around one million people by 2030, which would be ten times more than the existing workforce of an estimated 1.1 lakh employed by the sector, according to an independent study.

The study 'India's Expanding Clean Energy Workforce' highlights that most of the new jobs would be generated by small-scale renewable energy projects such as rooftop solar and mini and micro-grid systems compared to utility or large-scale projects like solar parks.

The study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) was released on Thursday.

The CEEW-NRDC-SCGJ analysis also highlighted the adverse impact of the pandemic on employment in the renewable energy sector. In comparison to 12,400 new workers employed in the sector in the year 2018-19, only 5,200 new workers were employed in 2019-20 and marginally better at 6,400 were employed in 2020-21.

In 2020-21, a majority of the new workers were employed in the rooftop solar segment, where annual capacity additions grew by nine per cent over previous year and accounted for 1.4 GW capacity. The study further found that India has successfully trained 78,000 people under the Surya Mitra training programme between 2015 and 2017 to improve the availability of skilled workers for clean energy projects.

These are exciting statistics in view of the 2030, 2050 and 2070 targets that India has set for itself in its action plan for combating the impacts due to changing climatic conditions. At the annual global climate change negotiations in November last year at Glasgow, UK, Prime Minister Modi had presented an ambitious agenda for India's contribution to the global efforts to combat climate change.

His vision of Panchamrit or five nectar elements involved installation of 500 GW non fossil energy capacity by 2030, reduction in emissions intensity of GDP by 45 per cent over 2005 levels, 50 per cent electric installed capacity coming from non-fossil sources by 2030, 1 billion tonnes reduction in carbon emissions till 2030 and India to become net-zero by 2070.

Most of the new capacities for electricity generation are expected to be based on solar and wind energy. "If India were to meet its commitments, then these two sectors could potentially create 3.4 million jobs over the next eight fiscal years which would employ a million people. However, jobs created are different from the workforce needed since one person could occupy more than one position," the study said.

"India's ambitious renewable energy targets provide an opportunity to deliver on jobs, growth and sustainability while transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The upcoming Union Budget must especially focus on scaling up rooftop solar, mini and micro grid systems, and domestic solar manufacturing to maximise the employment opportunities in the sector," CEO, CEEW, Dr Arunabha Ghosh said.

Further, to accelerate the deployment of solar parks and increase the uptake of decentralised renewable energy applications such as solar pumps and rooftops in rural India, it would be critical to train the rural youth and make them employable in various parts of the renewable ecosystem, he said.

Director, India Programme at NRDC, Sameer Kwatra said: "India's unprecedented renewables journey can set a new paradigm on how countries pursue prosperity without adding carbon to the atmosphere. With nearly 700 million people under the age of 30, creating clean futuristic jobs is a priority for the country. Powering the economy through renewable energy will not only enhance energy independence, avoid carbon emissions, and air pollution, but also help meet India's employment goals. The time to invest in renewable energy technologies and skillset of the future is now."

"Availability of a skilled workforce is critical to leveraging the employment opportunities that the renewable energy sector could generate in the coming years. The clean energy skill development programmes should target rural areas and training curriculums should be periodically updated to meet the industry requirements. It's also important to provide training on emerging technologies such as batteries and green hydrogen so that a skilled workforce is available to accelerate their deployment," said Dr Praveen Saxena, CEO of SCGJ.

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