India Can Add 300,000 Renewable Energy Jobs In Five Years, But Likely Won’t

In its attempt to meet some of the most aggressive capacity addition targets, India could add around 300,000 new jobs in the renewable energy sector, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council states.

Authors of the report ‘Greening India’s Workforce: Gearing Up For Expansion of Solar and Wind Power in India’, claim that more than 300,000 jobs would be created in India’s solar and wind energy sectors over the next five years. The authors also estimate that an additional 45,000 jobs can be created in the solar module manufacturing market.

The report notes that India plans to have an installed solar power capacity of 100 gigawatts and wind energy capacity of 60 gigawatts by March 2022. The government has set yearly capacity addition targets which are likely to fuel the jobs growth. The rooftop solar power market is expected to contribute the most to this jobs growth.

According to the authors of the reports, rooftop solar power projects have the highest employment coefficient or job-years per megawatt of 24.7 while ground-mounted solar power projects and wind energy projects have the values as 3.45 and 1.27, respectively.

Too Optimistic Projections

The authors have assumed that 60 gigawatts of ground-mounted and 40 gigawatts of rooftop solar power projects would be added by March 2022, meaning that India would achieve its set targets. This, however, looks highly unlikely.

India missed the capacity addition target for solar power capacity in 2016-17 by as much as 54%. Against a target of 12 gigawatts, only 5.5 gigawatt capacity was added between April 2016 and March 2017. The government now hopes to add 10 gigawatts capacity in 2017-18.

The government also seems to have bitten more than it could possibly chew with its rooftop capacity target of 40 gigawatts. But the government seems to have realised this and increased its utility-scale solar power capacity target. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy doubled its target to set up large-scale solar power parks from 20 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts while keeping the overall target at 100 gigawatts. Understandably, this would mean that some part of the rooftop target would be met by solar power parks.

The estimated additional 45,000 jobs from the solar modules manufacturing sector seem a mirage in the current scheme of things. Domestic manufacturers are distressed due to low demand owning to the sharp fall in Chinese module prices. If India is to sustain the cheap solar tariffs it has seen in the recent months the government will have to incentivise the domestic manufacturers.

Officials of the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy themselves have acknowledged that the capacity targets are quite ambitious. Still, whatever India could add would definitely break records, nationally and globally. A significant number of jobs would be created, even if not as many as estimated in the report.

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