Insights into Editorial: Make in India and renewable energy
20 February 2016
Among all the discussions held during the recently concluded Make in India Week, the renewable energy seminar occupied the centre stage.
- Make in India debates served as a platform to discuss and reiterate several initiatives, both domestic and international, that the government is spearheading. These range from the flagship Make in India programme to the establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
- However, experts argue that, not a single programme, but the synergies between these programmes offer the greatest opportunity for the country.
- India’s has planned a renewable energy target of installing 175 gigawatts (GW) capacity by 2022. It was officially announced in the 2015 budget speech.
- As we approach the next budget announcement, India’s total installed renewable energy capacity stands at close to 28GW, nearly 22% of the colossal target.
Solar power potential in India:
- India has vast solar power potential, where sunshine is available for long hours per day and in great intensity.
- As per the study conducted by ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), India’s solar power potential is as high as 748 GW, against our country’s cumulative installed capacity from all sources at around 275 GW.
Benefits associated with the renewable Energy sector:
Given the population growth rate, India needs to create 10 million new jobs every year. On the other hand, various analyses have showed that more than 1 million full-time equivalent jobs would be created by the solar deployment industry alone, between now and 2022.
- These would include over 210,000 skilled plant design and site engineering jobs, 18,000 highly skilled jobs in business development and over 80,000 annual jobs for performance data monitoring.
- Similarly, the wind sector would create 183,500 jobs by 2022, as wind capacity increases to 60GW.
Need of the hour:
As the country prepares to scale up its renewable energy capacity, it is important to recognize the need for a skilled workforce.
While the job creation potential of the renewable energy sector is significant, it also brings with it the urgent and currently unmet need for skilling.
- Analysis based on survey responses from 40 solar companies in India highlights the current unavailability of appropriately skilled manpower for construction and commissioning of solar units as a significant challenge to the solar industry.
- Similarly, wind sector respondents suggested that the current skilling programmes needed to be made more relevant and accessible, such that companies are assured of the high quality of training.
To address these issues, the government, in July 2015, launched Skill India Campaign. It aims to skill 400 million people by 2022.
- To address the skill gap in the renewable energy sector, the ambitious renewable energy target of the country can be interlinked with the Skill India initiative.
- Under this, it will be crucial to develop standardized training programmes that can be implemented through institutes around the country, with training institutes being set up in areas with the most renewable energy potential and upcoming capacity.
- It is time for India to focus on increasing domestic manufacturing in India and have end-to-end solar manufacturing in the country.
- Experts predict that solar manufacturing in India is likely to get significantly cheaper in the next 18 months. Strengthening domestic manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbines, at competitive prices, would further the objectives of the Make in India initiative, while also providing an impetus to the solar and wind industry.
- Skilling for research and product development would also be essential to achieve the renewable goals.
- Also, as several new entrepreneurs enter the market, both to manufacture and deploy renewable energy capacity, it will become interesting to view the synergies between the Start-up India initiative and the country’s renewable energy targets.
- To achieve the targeted capacity, it is also imperative that an environment is cultivated which induces confidence in investors to invest in this sunrise sector. This necessitates development of a prudent policy framework, which is ably supported by regulatory commitments with respect to honouring all the contractual agreements.
International Solar Alliance (ISA):
India’s recent pioneering effort to initiate the formation of ISA brings together 121 solar-rich countries on a common platform for cooperation to significantly augment the development, deployment and generation of solar technologies and power.
- While ISA will be an international organization, it has several shared focus areas with current domestic initiatives. One of the key pillars of the ISA work-plan is to facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies and R&D among member countries.
- This resonates with the objectives of the Skill India initiative, as well as India’s domestic solar target.
- While the focus of ISA is going to be global, India’s domestic solar sector could benefit significantly from its recommendations and capacity building initiatives.
The time for transitioning to an energy future that has a significant component of renewable energy has come. The political support being extended to this sector is unprecedented. It is now that synergies that have been identified between the various ongoing initiatives offer the opportunity to support the scaling up of renewable energy, with access to high-quality and relevant training programmes, as well as support to the domestic solar and wind manufacturing market, both of which will play an important role in determining the pace of the renewable energy scale-up in India.