Indian solar sector showed incredible progress in recent years by becoming a 30,000 crore industry. But, in Q1 2018 corporate funding within the solar industry fell by 65%. Fortunately, the numbers have significantly increased by 15% as 2018 comes to a close. Nearly $5.3 billion was raised by the first half of 2018 in comparison to 2017. As a nascent industry, the Indian solar sector needs support and funding to grow. And, factoring in the growth of funding scene, this can be construed as a positive development for solar in India. However, to predict the outcome, we need to inspect the present scenario in depth.
A few years ago, Solar was considered experimental and was a niche industry in the huge sector of energy generation. It is important to note that in 1977, solar panels cost $77 per watt p. However, currently solar modules cost between $0.33-$0.36 cents/per Watt p, which identifies more than 99% fall in prices. Also In 2015, power generation from renewable sources (1,985 GW) surpassed coal based energy generation (1,951 GW). And today, Solar PV panels have garnered a huge demand, resulting in global capacity additions nearly reaching 100 GW in 2017 alone. Countries, developing and developed alike are investing more in renewable energy ($286 billion in 2016) than conventional fossil fuel ($130 billion in 2016). New technologies that support renewable energy adoption like- Battery storage systems are also getting cheaper, paving a path for renewable energy (mainly solar) to become mainstream energy source.
Although the world has accepted solar and are working towards solarisation in an collaborative effort, it is important to note that solar only generates 2% of global electricity. Which is not very impressive if solar is to replace fossil fuels quickly. Mass adoption of green energy is the only way to save our future and climate, both of which are rapidly degrading, due to continuous use of depleting reserves of fossil fuels.
Global solar industry has grown immensely within last couple of years. In 2017, China added 52 GW of new solar installations, while US installed 12.5 GW, India ~6 GW, Japan 5.8 GW, Germany 2.2 GW, taking respective positions as World’s leading solar countries.
Government of India has made huge strides to solarize the country. However, efforts are sure to come up short if one of the most important component of growth ‘manpower’ is not enhanced to shoulder the new responsibilities.
It is important to note, that more than 200 million people in India still live without electricity, and since India’s solar mission is directed towards providing power for all, while benefiting from green energy transition, solar skill development efforts have to match or even surpass the solarisation goals.
Unemployment is a growing issue that is threatening to undone world’s efforts at transforming the socio-economic structure, in hopes of a better and sustainable future. And since India has 600 million people (more than half of its population) under 25 years, the country needs to make better and faster efforts at creating jobs. Fortunately solar has presented the solution with ease.
Solar industry has created 103,000 jobs in India till December 2017 and 1,017,800 jobs are expected be created within 2022. And not just in India-
- In US, solar energy is creating 13.7 jobs per million dollars spent, surpassing fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) as it creates 12.1 jobs per million spent.
- Brazil has hopes of creating 60,000 to 90,000 new jobs by the year 2018.
- European Union is expected to create +1.25 million economy-wide renewable energy jobs by 2030, reducing 40% greenhouse gas emissions.
- Mexico is expected to create +134,000 jobs in renewable energy sector by 2030.
- United Kingdom can create +70,000 net employment in renewable energy by 2030.
- Renewable energy is expected to create 24 million jobs by 2030 globally.
Therefore, it is apparent that investing in solar skill development will solve the unemployment problem, while aligning India’s solar mission with a talented resource pool to complete it.
Government Initiatives are here but So are Challenges
Government of India properly understands the requirements at hand, and they have taken initiatives to build a capable work force. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has worked towards to create qualification standards to create more green energy work force.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has also made efforts to incorporate green energy education in various formal and in-formal training outfits. MNRE has also partnered with the United States to develop Solar Energy Training Network (SETNET), to make solar training programs in India more robust.
However, there are bureaucratic hurdles that limit the interaction between training institutes and industry. This is creating a huge gap between the demand and the available skilled resources. Besides the training systems currently are more focused towards theoretical understanding of different stages of solar development and lack of practical know how.
Additionally, high training cost also stands as a road block to quicker solar skill development.
Remedy to the Problems
- Education Should Be Comprehensive: while establishing new training programs and policies, Government of India should also focus on the coursework and make sure that it is industry focused and has substantial practical training processes. Government should arrange access to domestic solar manufacturers and EPC solution providers to the students, to allow them hands on practical knowledge on various solar development processes.
- Establishing Training Institutions: Policy makers need to mandate at least one solar training institute in every state to support state wise solar growth. And locations of these institutes should be identified through advertisement to raise awareness.
- Training Standardization and Certification: Training curricula should be standardized and certified to produce skilled resources, who can be easily hired across state lines.
- Reduction of Training Cost: Due to the solar boom and world wide acceptance of solar, demand for skilled solar employees is incredibly high in India. And so is the training cost. Government needs to reduce this cost or offer flexible education loans to encourage students into selecting Solar as a career.
- Utilizing International Platforms: India’s National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), should utilize international platforms like ISA, to get acquainted with international best practices to develop skills.
India needs 1,116,400 skilled professionals in solar manufacturing, design, construction, maintenance, business development, and commissioning to reach its 100 GW by 2022 target. And although, India has shown incredible growth in solarisation, more focus is needed to boost solar skill development to reach the targets in sight. Otherwise the country may come up short in realizing its goals, which are suspected to transform the country.
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With climate control initiatives becoming a necessity and greatly accepted by the countries, the world is feeling the urge to boost its efforts in renewable energy growth. Important initiatives that pave the way for clean energy growth are being highlighted and taken into consideration to maximize results. Innovative financial mechanism is one such element that can transform positive green energy building strategies into reality.
India reaching ~20 GW in solar capacity in 2018 from less than 3 GW in 2014 highlights a trend that has received ample support from Government of India and private players both. Precise and well-timed decisions to build a policy environment, increasing finance choices, and encouragement to entrepreneurs have helped this happen. However, recent investigation on imported textured, tempered glass (used to manufacture solar modules) imported from Malaysia by India’s Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) does not appear as an act favourable towards Indian solar growth.