Solar module is the centre of solar technology. And although there has been a considerable technological evolution in solar module development for more efficient solar energy generation, consistent growth is needed for successful transition of green energy source into mainstream energy. To win over the fossil fuel and to stay constantly viable as an energy source, the world needs to make sure that solar energy generation is consistently increased while need for space is reduced. Better cell usage, advancing junction properties, screen printing, doping are few of the many ways how energy yield maximization is assured through solar modules. Continuous advancement in cell & module technology is the only way to keep solar energy relevant in today’s fast changing world to match energy generation and usage pattern.
Daily global CO2 emission level currently stands at 406.47 ppm (parts per million globally). Taking the hints from deteriorating environment, and identifying fossil fuel generation and consumption to be the primary reason for CO2 increase, the world is quickly adopting green energy. Since, global transport system plays a major role in adding to the CO2 levels, it is very important to bring the green energy utilization in transport systems as soon as possible. Since Solar energy has gained world wide acceptance due to its feasibility, easy to install, and reliability, solar energy growth and EV growth have become interconnected.
EV and Solar Energy Growth are Interconnected
Since India has made huge strides in renewable industry development, the country is considered to be an ideal platform for Electric Vehicle (EV) market growth. It is important to highlight that, 10 cities from top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, and a third of PM (particulate matter) pollution in India is from transportation sources. Additionally, in 2015-16 India’s crude oil imports are more than 80% amounting to $81.5 billion, and transport sector is the biggest consumer of crude oil with usage of 70% of diesel and 99.6% of petrol. Therefore, focusing on EV market growth depending on renewable energy (especially solar) would help India save billions of forex outflow, and reduce dependency in 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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Renewable energy investment ($ 286 bn) surpassed investment in coal and gas ($ 130 bn) in 2015-16 and estimated to amount to $333 bn in 2018-19. Not just the developed countries, but developing countries like Brazil, Philippines, Mexico, Turkey, Chile, Africa, and India are focusing on renewable energy to phase out fossil fuels. Solar has obviously become the world favourite in a short span of time, showcasing its feasibility, low maintenance, prolonged lifespan and easy to install attributes.
The Looming Threat
It is important to note that oil and gas investment in 2016 was close to $ 522 bn, although it was down from 2015’s investment ($ 595 bn), it was still higher than renewables. Therefore, it is apparent that to push out fossil fuels, which is not just an option but a necessity now, the world would require more effort and aggressive investment initiatives.
Driven by deteriorating climate conditions, failure to provide electricity to all (~1 bn people globally), and depleting conventional energy reserves, the world is now rapidly shifting towards green energy- mainly solar and wind. However, since energy generation through solar and wind are intermittent, there is a merit in thinking and taking active steps towards energy storage.
The way developing countries are aggressively investing in renewable energy, it is fair to state that energy storage industry will flourish within developing countries in near future. It is estimated that by 2035, developing nations will account for more than 80% of global growth in energy production and consumption. And energy storage will definitely play a major role in that scenario.