Job opportunities in solar sector in India

The solar sector has emerged as a new industrial domain over the recent years. With more and more people beginning to install solar panels in their homes and offices for meeting their energy requirements, the solar industry is developing faster than ever before in sales, installation and manufacturing verticals. If we have a look at the employment generated in the United States, the solar industry has employed more than 350,000 people thus far and it is projected that by 2025, an additional 202,000 jobs are going to be created.

India has a population of 1.3 billion people. It is estimated that by 2022, the solar energy industry would generate as many as 1.6 million jobs with over 600,000 jobs focused in the construction vertical alone.

The global trends in recent times have been witnessed that United States, China, and Germany are pushing for renewables, which made them launch a plan to reduce the global gas emissions by 40%. It will include building factories generating clean energy that would require creating 430,000 additional jobs. As a direct result, global use and implementation of solar technology has been on a steady rise since the early 2000. Solar is now the fastest rising source of renewable energy in the world, reaching about 1% of the total energy produced globally. In fact, solar energy production now rivals nuclear power globally. Solar energy reached a capacity of about 350 GW (gigawatts) globally in 2015, compared to nuclear energy which topped out at 391 GW in the same year. In addition, it is predicted that at the current rate of conversion to solar energy, it will overtake the use of fossil fuels by 2050, with most of the globe running on energy produced by the sun.

Since Renewable Energy is decentralised power, there are opportunities for generating jobs in villages. India's push to significantly strengthen the share of renewable energy to fuel its development growth can have other positive spillover impacts. In addition to improving energy security, enhancing energy access, and mitigating climate change, renewable energy (RE) may be able to help reduce poverty, by creating jobs. These being jobs that require high to minimal professional skills, there is employment potential for even those with limited educational opportunities along with the professionals.

Jobs in solar sector are expected to create opportunities for poverty reduction along the renewable energy supply chain. Currently, there are 100,000 people employed in solar energy and another 48,000 in wind energy sectors. This number is expected to go up to 330,000 by the time India achieves its target of generating 160 GW from solar and wind energy by 2022, as per a study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The WRI's study is a qualitative analysis of these jobs, about how they have the potential to reduce poverty, especially in rural India.

The jobs will be geographically dispersed in areas located away from towns and cities, thereby spreading the economic benefits. These are also areas where people have fewer renewable energy skills and few alternative employment opportunities other than seasonal farming.

In solar technology, a minimum of 17 people are required per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity - from manufacturing to the operation, unlike coal where hardly five are needed. As a result, employment generation in coal is restricted, unlike solar or the RE sector, which are distributed and more people are needed to maintain and operate it.

In the years to come, jobs will be created related to other applications of the solar technology, such as for water pumps used for drinking water and irrigation projects. Since it is a versatile technology, the opportunity for employment is also vast.

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