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India’s Renewable Energy Sector Need For Stronger Policies

And Programmes

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  • India’s renewable energy workforce grew five-fold in five years
  • While renewable energy is reshaping India’s energy sector, growth within the renewable energy sector is uneven
  • Remarkable job growth signals the need for stronger policies and programmes

By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, July 16, 2019: Achieving India’s renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022, has the potential to create employment for over 330,000 workers in the wind and solar sectors – at least 230,000 additional workers between now and 2022, says a report released today by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ).

“Expand government programs and market investment to ensure steady renewable energy growth to support clean energy job-creation to achieve India’s clean energy potential of at least 330,000 workers and 1 million shortterm and long-term job opportunities in the wind and solar sectors by 2022,” said Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW in the latest report.

Rapid capacity addition in India’s solar and wind sectors have been the primary drivers behind the growth, according to the new report ‘Powering Jobs Growth with Green Energy’.

India’s renewable energy workforce has grown five-fold in the past five years. In 2019, nearly 100,000 workers are employed in the solar and wind industry, up from 19,800 workers in 2014. Of these, 12,400 new workers were employed in FY19 and 30,000 new workers were employed in FY18 by utility-scale solar, rooftop solar, and wind energy projects.

“While renewable energy is reshaping India’s energy sector, growth within the renewable energy sector is uneven. For example, new capacity additions in solar (utility-scale and rooftop) at 27.4 GW between FY15 to FY19 have outpaced the wind sector at 14.4 GW during the same time. Within the solar market, the vast majority of India’s total solar capacity until FY19 comes from utility-scale projects at 26.2 GW with only 3.8 GW of total solar-rooftop. Utility-scale solar has achieved 43% of its 60 GW target, while rooftop solar is at only 9.5% of its target of 40 GW by 2022,” according to report.

The report further says, “The year-on-year capacity additions have also been inconsistent. For instance, only 5.7 GW of utility-scale solar energy was added in FY19, as compared to 8.2 GW in FY18. Capacity growth in the wind sector slowed from 5.4 GW in FY17 to multi-year lows in the last two years – 1.7 GW in FY18 and 1.5 GW in FY19. These developments also have a direct impact on employment with additional workforce for utility-scale solar, rooftop solar, and wind employed dropping to 12,382 workers in FY19 from 30,083 additional workers in FY18.”

“Evaluating policy and market choices regarding the share of clean energy projects – large utility-scale or decentralized renewable energy – and ensuring continuous growth in the sector can help in maximizing the jobs created in the renewable energy sector,” according to report.

Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said, “India lies at the centre of the ongoing global energy transition and its successful renewable energy programme is inspiring and enabling similar low-carbon transitions across other emerging economies. In the last two years, the capacity addition in India’s renewable energy sector outweighed additions in thermal power. While India deepens its renewable energy markets to ensure that the employment potential is met, it would also need to increase focus on creating a skilled workforce and designing quality training programmes.”

The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) is one of South Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions. The Council uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain – and change – the use, reuse, and misuse of resources.

The CEEW-NRDC-SCGJ analysis finds that 45,000 workers could be employed in solar module manufacturing in India as part of the 100 GW solar target. However, policy certainty, government support, and lowering the cost of finance will be key to sustaining the growth of India’s renewable energy markets, and in turn the renewable energy workforce.

Renewable jobs growth also slowed in 2019 because of a 20% decline in capacity additions in the solar and wind market. The new Goods and Services Tax (GST), imposition of the safeguard duty, payment delays by power distribution companies, lack of finance, and infrastructure constraints were key reasons behind the slowdown.

“Strategic thinking is needed to grow sustainable jobs in India and around the world – especially supporting decentralized renewable energy,” said Anjali Jaiswal, Senior Director with NRDC. “The 100,000 clean jobs happening now are vital to powering India’s economic growth and meeting climate targets.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international non-profit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. NRDC’s India Program on Climate Change and Clean Energy, launched in 2009, works with local partners to help build a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

The CEEW-NRDC-SCGJ analysis also highlights that installing rooftop solar and other decentralised renewable energy technologies created significantly more employment than utility-scale solar and wind energy sectors. Nearly 39,000 workers were employed for just 3.8 GW of total cumulative installed rooftop solar until FY19. In comparison, close to 38,000 workers were employed for 26.2 GW of utility-scale solar and over 23,000 workers were employed for 35.6 GW of total cumulative wind energy installed.

The study also highlighted that emerging renewable energy technologies such as floating solar, wind-solar hybrid projects, solar photovoltaic plants with battery energy storage systems, and agro-photovoltaics such as solar pumps, could create additional employment opportunities in the coming years.

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Dr Praveen Saxena, CEO of the Skill Council for Green Jobs, added, “Over 58,000 workers have been trained till date by the government. To meet the growing demands of India’s renewable energy sector, we will now focus on improving technical competency of skill development centres, deepening penetration of training institutes in smaller cities and rural areas, increasing collaborations with industry, constantly upgrading training programmes, and creating a larger pool of skilled trainers.”

The Skills Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) is the sector skill council supporting National Skill Development Mission, National Solar Mission, Make in India, Smart City Mission, AMRUT and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. SCGJ has been created under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and promoted by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) with the mandate to undertake industry skills gap analysis, develop National Occupational Standards along with course curriculums and certification of trainers and candidates to support skill development activity in India.

The study also urges renewable energy companies to improve reporting on the number of jobs created at every stage of the value chain and skill requirements to ensure market growth and political support over time.

Besides the huge employment potential, the success of the renewable energy market is also crucial to India’s achieving its Paris Climate Agreement targets. India has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of its GDP by at least 33% below the 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieving 40% of installed electric power capacity from non-fossil sources by the same year.

Here are the key findings of the CEEW report:

KEY FINDINGS

  1. The workforce employed in the Indian renewable energy sector grew nearly five-fold in the past five years, rising from nearly 19,800 workers in FY14 to nearly 99,900 workers in FY19.
  1. The largest renewable energy employment growth occurred in FY18 with over 30,000 new workers in utility-scale solar, rooftop solar, and wind energy. In FY19 this number dropped to nearly 12,400 newly-added workers given the limited renewable energy capacity added that year.
  1. Rooftop solar and other decentralized renewable energy technologies continue to employ far more workers than utility-scale solar and wind energy – nearly 38,640 workers were employed for just 3.8 GW of total cumulative installed rooftop solar until FY19, as compared to over 37,910 workers for 26.2 GW of total utility scale solar and nearly 23,340 workers for 35.6 GW of total cumulative wind energy installed in India until FY 19.
  1. Stronger government programs and market investments are needed to meet India’s clean energy targets of 175 GW and employment potential of over 330,000 workers creating nearly 1 million job opportunities (short-term and long-term) in the wind and solar sectors by 2022, especially given the recent market slowdown in FY19.
  1. Training programs by SCGJ trained over 58,000 workers between FY16 and FY19, demonstrating that training centers in smaller town and rural areas can help develop the skills needed in the local workforce and help

expand the renewable energy market across India.

Here are the key recommendations given in the report.

According to CEEW, “As India works toward meeting these goals, there is significant opportunity to combine the government’s job creation and energy transition goals. The following recommendations can help:

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Strengthen support for decentralized renewable energy projects such as solar rooftops since decentralized renewable energy (DRE) has the maximum job creating potential and the mix of utilityscale RE and DRE projects India choses will be pivotal in employment trends in this sector.
  2. Expand government programs and market investment to ensure steady renewable energy growth to support clean energy job-creation to achieve India’s clean energy potential of at least 330,000 workers and 1 million shortterm and long-term job opportunities in the wind and solar sectors by 2022.
  3. Support local training centers collaborating with industry, particularly in the rural areas, to provide a specialized workforce needed by developers, to expand clean energy jobs across India, and to spur local green entrepreneurs.
  4. Increase reporting of employment generation from renewable energy companies by encouraging companies to report the number of jobs created at every stage of the value chain and the kind of skills required to ensure market growth and political support over time.
  5. Promote domestic solar module manufacturing industry to boost employment since meeting the demand for solar modules required for 100 GW of solar capacity domestically, can employ an additional 45,000 workers.

(Onkareshwar Pandey is Group Editor of Morning India group of publications, former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor – News, ANI. He can be contacted at – editoronkar@gmail.com / http://bit.ly/2mh7hih).

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