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Cover Story | June 2015

Dreaming big One million jobs in offing!

In just four years, India´s solar market has grown more than a hundred-fold, exceeding 3 GW of installed capacity. India recently increased its 2022 grid-connected solar energy target by five-fold to 100 GW from 20 GW. Incidentally, India is also the world´s fifth-largest wind energy producer, targeting 60 GW of wind energy by 2022. With 260 GW of total installed energy currently and a need for much more power, scaling up solar and wind energy projects can power India´s economic growth and create jobs.

POWER TODAY, in this issue attempts to takes stock of what could be the demand for required job profiles in the renewable sector considering its immense growth opportunities.
According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), it is estimated that solar photovoltaic (PV) projects built in India between 2011-2014 created approximately 24,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobsùsolely from commissioned projects currently producing electricity. The wind sector has also created about 45,000 FTE jobs, according to government estimates. Despite limited data, solar and wind renewable energy is estimated to have created nearly 70,000 FTE jobs in India so far.

If India achieves its new target of 176 GW of installed solar and wind energy by 2022, as many as 1 million FTE jobs could be created, estimates suggest.

Meanwhile, since each industry has its specific skill requirements for which trained manpower is required, most of the renewable developers that we spoke to said that job requirements will mainly be in energy yield assessment and system design, civil and electrical engineering, land procurement, resource management, project finance and management and O&M (operation and maintenance).

So let´s hear what some developers are looking for while putting their requirements on the block. However, some of players did not answer our queries in this regard as they felt it is too early to comment upon future developments.

However, according to Kiran Jethwa, Managing Partner, Fumase, the requirement for job profiles mentioned above will be from engineering, procurement and construction companies and manufacturers.

Additionally, during our interactions with job portals-Naukri and Indeed-they informed us that they presently have maximum requirements for job profiles that include business development with a qualification background of B.E/B.Tech (electrical/mechanical), design

and maintenance for wind, strategic planning, market intelligence with qualification background of MBA, project planning with experience in energy management, HSEMS and project finance with an experience in cash flow management, fund raising and financial modelling.

To this, a senior official from Naukri.com who wishes not to be named shared, ´At present we have around 443 jobs pertaining to solar and wind sectors, however, those are indirect requirement, from resource management consultants and not directly from developers or EPC contractors.´

Similarly, a recruitment official from Indeed.com stated that there are around 355 jobs on their website, with majority require¡ment coming directly from companies as against third-party resources.

Sunshine offers
The Indian solar sector has the potential to generate up to 1,000,000 jobs (excluding manufacturing) if India achieves its targeted 100 GW of grid-connected solar power capacity by 2022.

Based on industry assumptions, POWER TODAY presents a range of scenarios that take into consideration whether this 100 GW goal will be supported through more emphasis on larger solar parks, grid-connected large-scale 5-10 MW projects, or smaller more labour-intensive rooftop projects, with varying short-term and long-term job projections depending on the types of projects installed. The three scenarios show that not only does the targeted amount of solar power matters, but the type of solar project also plays a major role when developing policies to support clean energy growth. (Refer job creation scenarios to achieve 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 on page no 61) That said, 

Manoj Gupta, VP-Solar, Fortum India says, ´In an ideal scenario of rooftop projects, large scale projects and solar parks addressing the solar portfolio, we can expect about 800,000 short-term full time employments and about 300,000 long-term full time employments.´ The Indian government has recently focused on the creation of ´ultra mega´ solar parks--concentrated zones of solar project development that ease permitting and avoid some transmission losses, but could create fewer jobs than other project types. If energy access and ´24/7 electrification´ are two of the ultimate aims of this ambitious 100 GW solar goal, then the government should also consider to what degree labour-intensive rooftop solar projects are prioritised.

Following are the scenarios as discussed:
Scenario 1 - 40 GW rooftop, 40 GW large-scale projects and 20 GW solar parks
This scenario reflects the job creation potential based on the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy´s recently proposed mix of project types to achieve the 100 GW goal. If this recent policy shift towards creating vast solar parks is realised, with a balanced approach that also encompasses a significant amount of rooftop solar, this scenario could create a potential 789,000 short-term FTE and 296,000 long-term FTE jobs, totalling more than 1,080,000 FTE jobs by 2022.

Scenario 2 - 40 GW rooftop and 60 GW large-scale projects This shows the short and long-term job creation potential if government policy approach focuses primarily on 5-10 MW grid-connected large-scale projects rather than solar parks. This scenario is likely to create a potential 850,000 short-term FTE and 296,000 long-term FTE jobs, totalling more than 1,140,000 FTE jobs by 2022. (Refer expected job creation in large rooftop on page no 63) Scenario 3 - 60 GW Rooftop and 40 GW large-Scale Projects It shows the job creation potential if rooftop solar is priori¡tised and makes up the majority of solar installations by 2022.

Of the two scenarios presented earlier, this scenario reflects the most jobs potentially created due to its focus on labour-intensive rooftop solar. This scenario could create a potential 1,000,000 short-term FTE and 310,000 long-term FTE jobs, totalling more than 1,310,000 FTE jobs by 2022.

Besides, while the 100 GW target is only for grid-connected solar energy, off-grid solar also presents a tremendous power resource and jobs opportunity for villages across the country that cannot feasibly be reached by the grid and existing infrastructure.

According to industry observers, rooftop solar industry requires large number of electricians, installers, engineers-cum-entrepreneurs who can build local businesses as solar installers and maintenance companies. Similarly for large scale ground installations, says Aman Attree, HR Head, Hindustan Powerprojects (HPPPL), ´skills in area of module installation, DC & AC cabling, module cleaning, inverter maintenance, etc are required.´

Adds Saugata Datta, President-Business Development, Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd, ´In line with the æMake in India´ vision, a large number of employment opportun¡ities in the solar industry would be created in the manufacturing sector. Large scale hiring will also take place across EPC, O&M and IPP segments.´

Meanwhile, the scenarios are based on assumptions made after interactions with several job consultants as well as developers, and may not likely be the thumb rule in real application. The general consensus amongst developers and EPC players is that one cannot predict the employment requirement basis such on scenarios, as factors like geography, demography and social elements need to be discounted. As far as skill development in solar is concerned, much more extensive training efforts would be required to provide enough skilled and semi-skilled workers to keep pace with this considerable undertaking. It requires deep understanding of solar radiation, performance of components, user applications and technological innovations, etc.

Winds of change In terms of wind energy, the sector has the potential to generate much needed employment of upto 183,500 FTE jobs (excluding manufacturing) for the growing workforce, if India achieves its targeted 60 GW of wind power capacity for the same period. (Turn to page no 63 for breakdown of jobs by type) Says, Ramesh Kymal, Chairman and Managing Director, Gamesa India, ´During the pre-construction phase, highly qualified specialists are required in wind research, and land identification. In the construction and post-construction phase, more skilled manpower is required in project execution activities like development, erection and commissioning and maintenance of wind farms.´ According to NRDC-CEEW estimates, majority of jobs created by the Indian wind energy sector by 2022 would be in semi-skilled and unskilled roles: nearly 59 per cent FTE jobs for semi-skilled personnel and 25 per cent FTE jobs for unskilled workers.

(Refer percentage breakdown of jobs by type on page no 63) Around 81 per cent of these projected jobs would be one-time roles such as construction, and 19 per cent would be permanent jobs. (Refer one-time jobs and permanent jobs on page no 63) When asked about low requirement for permanent jobs, a major wind developer, on the condition of anonymity revealed that EPC players in the renew segment do not want to invest much in human capital. The reason being that since most of these players do not have large project backlog or pipeline of projects in hand, recruitment too will be limited only to a one-time role i.e. for civil construction, electricians etc.

However, another wind turbine manufacturer suggested that the manufacturing sector would be the one to fetch permanent jobs, as it requires capital investment in wind turbine manufacturing, solar panels and modules etc., which cannot be risked by recruiting contract-base human resource.

Clean energy, positive impact
Meanwhile, spotlighting specific clean energy projects highlights the positive economic impact of solar and wind energy. Local communities are key beneficiaries of employment from wind power projects during the project´s operations and maintenance phase. For example, out of a total of 438 FTE jobs created by the Gamesa-Renew Power 85 MW wind power project in Maharashtra, 20 per cent were generated for local residents in semi-skilled and unskilled roles.

Kiran Energy´s 20 MW solar power plant in Rajasthan, which generated 180 FTE jobs, also demonstrates the huge employment potential of the solar power sector. Rooftop solar PV is another major opportunity which presents a viable alternative to diesel backup power for companies and also generates local skilled employment.

Hero MotoCorp, the world´s largest motorcycle manufacturer, has already installed an 80 kW rooftop PV project in Haryana and is looking to add solar PV to its other manufacturing facilities as well.

Reporting jobs data
It is evident that any new announcement by renewable developers or EPC players, rarely mentions job creation numbers. However, businesses and governments in several other countries, regularly track and report both temporary and permanent jobs created by renewable energy projects in press releases and other media outlets.

Consider this: One press release by global renewable player, First Solar, suggested that their project in California would create $192 million in pay for approximately 400 construction positions over the three-year build. Another example is South Kent Wind, who created approximately 500 jobs during construction and 22 full-time permanent positions for ongoing operations and maintenance.

However, while most developers who communicated with us both on and off the record agreed that the full range of economic benefits of employment generated by India´s clean energy industries are largely unknown due to a lack of reporting, they did not mention that the practice is also non-existent in the solar or wind industries here. Since the renewable energy industry has largely been promoted by privately held companies over the last 3-4 years, and now with the sector getting more impetus from the government and lenders, Attree feels, ´a large quantum of solar and wind power will get connected to the grid and as companies get listed, reporting will not be an issue.

´ To this, Gupta, from Fortum India complains, ´There is a dearth of data in the segment, however with every level of graduation, the industry will come up with factual reporting to establish their contribution in making India a solar empowered nation.´

POWER TODAY suggestions

  • Indian government should consider employment opportunities created by solar and wind industries when designing and implementing clean energy policies.

  • Make available information on potential job opportunities pertaining to a specific project to market investors and public who stand to benefit from increased clean energy and energy access.

  • Increased transparency on employment numbers for clean energy projects enhances policy support, increases lender confidence and supports the need for skill-development. 

  • By reporting their projects´ jobs numbers in press releases or related announcements clean energy companies would have a positive economic impact on India´s workforce. Also creates a baseline of employment numbers to quantify future growth of the robust market.

  • Companies should change the work environment through better human resource practices, soft skills training, reducing hierarchical barriers and creating career development maps for the personnel.

  • Government and regulators should support industry groups and large companies to create positive brand image and attract fresh talent.

  • To support the enormous job creation potential of achieving it´s solar and wind energy goals, Indian government and business leaders can prioritise the availability of affordable capital through innovative financing interventions such as green banks and green bonds.

Job profile requirements by various wind and solar power IPPs

  • Health safety and environment (HSE)
  • Project management
  • Wind resource assessment
  • Land procurement and equipment procurement
  • Electrical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Operation and maintenance
  • Yield assessment and system design
  • Business development and sales

´The manpower requirement for solar industry is largely skilled and technical´
Aman Attree, HR Head, Hindustan Powerprojects (HPPPL)
Can you tell us what kind of employment opportunities will be there by 2022? Driven by its focus on energy efficiency and clean fuels, the government is keen to augment power production from renewable (solar, wind, bio-fuels, etc.). To achieve the ambitious target of 100 GW solar and 60 GW wind power, it is imperative to develop adequate human capital and invest in it. This sector offers an employment opportunity of immense proportion across the value chain including design and engineering, manufacturing, construction, material supplies, project planning and implementation, financial management, operations and maintenance management.

Which areas or job profiles will require full time equivalent skilled manpower?
Each industry has its specific skill requirements for which trained manpower is required. In solar, we require people specialised in energy yield assessment and system design, so that solar is built at right locations and for optimal performance. It requires deep understanding of solar radiation, performance of components, user applications and technological innovations.

Which areas-rooftop, grid-connected large-scale or solar parks-will attract more job opportunities in India?
Rooftop solar industry requires large number of electricians, installers and engineers-cum-entrepreneurs who can build local businesses as solar installers and main¡tenance companies. Similarly for large scale ground installations, skills in area of module installation, DC & AC cabling, module cleaning, inverter maintenance, etc are required.

Can you tell us about your requirement for skilled workforce?
This sector is technology intensive in nature, requiring large number of specialised skilled and trained manpower during the project construction phase as well as the operation and maintenance phase. To ensure timely implementation of projects and optimum performance upon commissioning, it is essential to have technical and managerial competency.

A good understanding of the commercial arrangements and power trading system is also critical in order to make commercial decisions.

How does the company outline its requirement for workforce?
Manpower requirement for the solar industry is largely skilled and technical and most of this is required at the junior level to take care of fabrication, installation and maintenance works. Requirement for unskilled workforce is only at the initial civil/masonry work level which is a one time job during construction phase. Remaining manpower for fabrication, installation and electrification is purely skilled and semi-skilled based. Unskilled manpower will also be required during routine maintenance activity like module cleaning, security and grass cutting.

´We are likely to add 600 employees on our payroll in FY2015-16´
Saugata Datta, President- Business Development, Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd.

What are your company´s required job profiles and requirements?
Since we are taking huge strides in expanding our manu¡facturing facility and operations, we expect an workforce of 600 employees to be added to our Vikram Solar family at various levels within the FY 2015-16. While rooftop programs will attract channel and distribution network for sales and service, grid connected large scale and solar parks will draw more people from engineering and financial backgrounds.

We have one of the most technologically advanced solar PV module manufacturing facilities, which is expected to reach a cumulative capacity of 500 MW by the end of 2015.

We look forward to increasing our module manufacturing capacity further to 1.2 GW by 2018. Additionally, we are also targeting an IPP of 500 MW by 2018. We are also planning to add 400 MW multicrystalline cell manufacturing facility in phases by 2018. All this will call for huge manpower planning in phases and the numbers would largely depend upon the technology that we adopt in due course of time.

India´s clean energy benefits are largely unknown. Your comments
With new credible players entering the solar sector, I think there is a great amount of transparency infused in the whole process. We, at Vikram Solar, follow clear and transparent recruitment policy, employee engagement, assessments and career growth opportunities for all employees. Vikram Solar has always been an equal opportunity employer and we have been employing people with culturally diversified backgrounds with footprints in UK, Germany, the Americas and Japan.

Can you throw some light on the job creation exercise done by your company?
We have increased employee strength by at least 15 per cent during the last financial year to cater to our current needs and also support our ambitious expansion plans. Additionally, our expansion plans have created employment opportunities for our business partners, suppliers, different vendors and contract labourers, thus increasing the indirect employment generated by us by 15-20 per cent.

´IPPs will generate 4,000-5,000 jobs´
Sudhir Nunes, CEO, Orange Renewable Power

Can you tell us about your requirement?
Power projects require specialised technical manpower during the project construction phase as well as the operation and maintenance (O&M) phase. Approximately two-thirds of the required manpower will be needed for construction and commissioning and the rest divided among BD, design and pre-construction and O&M.

The power sector is a capital and technology intensive sector that requires large number of engineers, technicians and other skilled workers. Due to its technology intensive nature, business, technical and manage¡rial competency is critical in ensuring timely implementation of projects and optimum per¡¡formance upon commissioning.

What could be a favourable scenario?
A favourable scenario of achieving the 60 GW target is to likely generate approximately 4,000-5,000 professional jobs among developers/IPPs alone, not to mention construction jobs and indirect employment.

India´s clean energy benefits are largely unknown. Do you agree with this?
There is existing requirement of skilled manpower in the power sector which needs attention. It is important for the Government, regulators and the industry to come together and in their individual capacity, invest in attracting and training high quality skilled manpower for long term sustainable growth of the sector. The industry needs to showcase the opportunities available and create awareness among the young talent pool. Government and regulators should support industry groups as well as large companies in their efforts toward creating a positive brand image for the indus¡¡¡try in order to attract fresh talent.

Furthermore, companies should work on changing the work environment through better human resource practices, soft skills training, reducing hierarchical barriers and creating career development maps for the personnel.

Do you agree that by outlining the number of jobs created by a new project, Indian solar and wind developers would match international business practices?
Yes, because development of world class projects requires significant capabilities in safety, quality and design. For any strategy to be successful and for the development of the sector itself, it is important for all the stakeholders to recognise the importance of developing human capital and invest in it.

The sector requires augmentation of manpower capacity across the value chain including equipment manufacturing, fuel resources, construction, project management and O&M and a balance across the value chain would definitely lead to following of best international practices among the power industry.

´We will increase our employee headcount in tune with our expansion´
Manoj Gupta,
VP-Solar, Fortum India

What are your company´s job profile requirements? 

We are making serious efforts in contributing to the nation´s solar target. However, we are equally cautious about making our decisions profitable as we want to be committed towards the nation´s solar dream. Recently, we inaugurated 10 MW solar PV plant in Madhya Pradesh expan¡ding our solar energy generation capacity to 15 MW in India. It is also the first greenfield solar project commissioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) Phase II, which created various opportu¡nity for skilled and unskilled manpower.

Most importantly, we are in a continuous process of evaluating potential opportunities and will keep expanding our solar portfolio in the years to come. As we keep expanding our footprints, we will keep increasing our headcounts. On industry note, average need for man power every 100 MW is around 10 people for full time and around 40-50 unskilled persons for clean¡¡ing the module during O & M.

Which area will attract job opportunities in India?
The solar sector as whole will need more than 1 million full time employees to successfully operate and manage power plants that will create 100 GW power. India has access to sunlight for more than 300-330 days every year in states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. As it is, the solar sector has been booming in the nation in its initial stages.

It is difficult to predict the areas that will attract job opportunities, however we are sure that every method of solar electricity generation will see a surge.

Can you throw some light on the job creation exercise done by your company?
Our strategy here is two prongedûemployment and entrepreneurship. Towards the end of 2013, we acquired a 5 MW plant in Rajasthan.

One decisive action has been to give opportunity to local villagers, train them and take them along. We will continue to do the same and take the community along as we grow. Employability and education are pillars of how we share our success with society.

Do you agree that players should provide numbers for their new projects?
We will partially agree to this. However, there is shortage of skilled manpower globally as well.

Most important aspect is that international players are becoming more innovative with their R&D on advanced technology to tackle the demand-availability human resource gap.

- Rahul Kamat

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