To achieve 100 GW target, Prashant Khankhoje, Director, Global Energy and Advisor, Indian Power Producers Association, believes India needs high manpower in addition to the capital requirement.
With just four years to go [by 2022] to achieve the target of 100 GW in renewable energy (RE), what kind of employment opportunities do we see in the sector?
The Government of India has ambitious plans of increasing the percentage of RE in the energy mix of the country. India's target is to achieve 175 GW generation capacity by 2022. Out of this, 100 GW is planned from solar - through installation of 40 GW rooftop solar projects and 60 GW large ground-mounted projects. India's need to increase energy provision for its population and fast-growing economy poses a formidable challenge, which is perceived both as a great opportunity as well as a necessity. In addition to its own target, India is also helping the world reduce carbon emission by switching to clean energy, as decided during Paris Climate Agreement 2015. To achieve such ambitious target, we need high manpower in addition to the capital requirement. As per a recent report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), about 47,000 new jobs were created in the RE sector in 2017, employing 432,000 people. Use of solar energy is the need of the hour, since it has both social and commercial impact. Employment opportunities in RE encompass the complete value chain like funding, manufacturing, engineering, procurement, construction, and operation and maintenance.
The Electricity Act 2003 promotes renewable energy. As per Section 86(I)E of EA 2003, the state commission shall promote cogeneration and generation of electricity from renewable sources. It would provide opportunities for grid connectivity and sale of electricity to any person, and also purchase of electricity from such sources.
Which are the core segments that will see the creation of jobs?
Creation of 100 GW generation capacity will necessitate empowering the whole gamut. Resources will be needed in areas like research and development in solar technology, arrangement of funds for these projects, manufacturing, import of solar panels, packing and delivery of panels and allied equipment, development of solar projects including planning, engineering, procurement, construction, development of civil infrastructure, development of electrical infrastructure, synchronisation with grid and metering, operation and maintenance, coordination with statutory authorities and regulatory authorities, and distribution and transmission companies. All these areas need skilled manpower. There are a few more areas like forecasting and scheduling, storage, and ancillary services which are in the development stage. They will also create jobs in addition to the existing ones.
As India has strong irradiation across regions, do we see any specific type of industry come up in specific regions? Please elaborate on this.
India has wonderful climatic conditions as far as the requirements for solar projects are concerned. Almost every state can have solar installations. We can develop solar projects in areas where barren lands are available and farming is not possible. In addition to solar farms, we can think of setting up manufacturing facilities which can boost the economy of regions where they are established, apart from creating new job opportunities.
Since electricity is a concurrent subject, what kinds of challenges do we see in the adoption of solar power and in the creation of jobs? We have noticed that state governments have some apprehensions on issues such as open access.
Electricity is a concurrent subject. Both central and state governments work in parallel in deciding electricity policies and regulations. We have Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Centre Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), and State Electricity Regulatory Commission. All these authorities work for the promotion of RE in India. The other stakeholders are state energy development agencies and state distribution companies in addition to generator and financial institutions. Sometimes, the solar project development gets affected when the implementation is not in sync with the stakeholders. The generator's cash flow gets affected in case the power purchase tariff is not known or undecided due to various reasons. The entire team of solar developers is under stress till the project is developed and money for generation is received on a regular basis. The hurdles in the process are issues related to right of way of land, construction of infrastructure like road and power evacuation lines, execution of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and getting payment.
Do you think open access, net metering and more residences adopting rooftop solar electricity will lead to the creation of jobs and capacity within the sector?
Open access is one of the power sector reforms introduced by Electricity Act 2003. Open access means non-discriminatory provision for the use of transmission lines, distribution systems, or associated facilities with such lines or systems, by any licensee, consumer, or a person engaged in generation in accordance with the regulations specified by the appropriate commission.
Open access gives the opportunity to the generator to sell the generated power to any consumer at a mutually-decided tariff. Moreover, the generator can also avail REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) benefit by selling RECs in market and getting additional revenue, thus improving cash flow. This entire transaction involves a lot of activities and helps in the creation of jobs to manage.
Net metering means that the energy generated from solar is first used on site where it is produced. Any excess energy is exported to the grid. To manage this transaction and to keep accounting of energy generated, used and exported, manpower is required.
"India's need to increase energy provision for its population and fast-growing economy poses a formidable challenge."
"The entire team of solar developers is under stress till the project is developed and money for generation is received on a regular basis."
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