Renewable Energy: India’s next employment boom
The renewable energy market in India is being predicted to surge over the next few years as the country makes the transition away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Energy experts are suggesting that hundreds of thousands of renewable energy jobs could be created, transforming the economy in urban and rural regions.
Energy experts, however, believe this rapid growth will create challenges to generate sufficient skilled, technical professionals to meet this number of employment opportunities. Companies highlight the existing skills gap in India and believe the rapid development of the renewables market would result in the widening of this skills gap.
According to the World Resources Institute, the development of wind and solar industries in India is predicted to create over 300,000 jobs within construction, design, manufacturing, maintenance and business development.
A transition to renewable focused energy mix is very positive for the national and the global challenges of climate change. For India, it means improved energy security, higher energy accessibility and reduced poverty.
The Government of India has set a high target of delivering 40% of its total energy from renewable energy by 2030. India is heavily reliant on its coal and oil industry and the Government is keen to divert away from these costly industries and focus on building the renewables market. New Delhi is expecting to generate over 170GW from renewable energy sources by 2022, with a large focus on the solar market.
It is looking positive for future clean energy projects with the Government supporting further development. However, the main challenge will be matching the demand and supply of human resources in the energy market.
To combat this challenge the Government is working on a range of initiatives with private companies, creating renewable energy training centers, and green skills academies.
Critics, however, believe that whilst Government plans are supportive of renewables development, they are not being implemented properly. Educational professionals point to the lack of renewable energy within engineering studies and the general lack of courses available within this market. Education professionals believe far more is needed in terms of developing specific institutes for renewable energy and offering a wider range of courses.
Development of the renewables industry is likely to expand the rural economy in India. Over 60% of the Indian population live in rural areas and depend heavily on agriculture and farming as their main source of income. New jobs in renewables could potentially make a massive difference to rural people, in particular women in rural regions.
Whilst there is a demand for skilled professionals, many constructions, installation, and sales focused roles will be available to unskilled workers who potentially lack the training or education to secure more skilled opportunities.
Businesses such as Tata are gaining more traction in the renewables sector through the development of Tata Power Renewable Energy. Recently, Tata revealed it would develop a 30MW solar facility in western India, with a total capacity of close to 1500MW. Additional projects have been planned and further investment is being speculated to focus more on renewables instead of coal and oil sites.
A major challenge however for renewable energy development will be acquiring land for new projects, particularly in rural regions due to resistance from local people and farmers who are reliant on the land and farming for their regular income.