2017-12-12 | Editor : et_editor 2940 pageviews

Report Says India’s Growing Renewable Energy Industries Could Create 330,000 New Jobs but They Are Not a Cure-All to Rural Poverty

World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-profit research organization, reports that India’s growing renewable energy industries could create as many as 330,000 new jobs over the next five years. The construction of wind farms and solar power plants in India has taken off recently as the country aims to have 175GW of its power generation capacity based on renewable energies in 2020. At the same time, the labor demand for these green projects is creating employment opportunities that could bring a significant portion of India’s population out of poverty.

According to the latest analysis published by WRI, a solar power plant that is 10MW or 25MW in terms of generation capacity would require around 40 technicians plus 80 non-technical workers to operate and maintain. WRI furthermore calculates that 2.9 million workers are needed to achieve the solar generation target of 100GW.

The employment opportunities provided by these solar projects could help reduce the number of poor people in rural India. WRI’s report points out that poor people will be able to access opportunities in renewable energy industries if they are supported by well-developed training programs. Based on various statistical sources, India has around 270 million people living under extreme poverty conditions. Of that total, at least 24 million have no electricity.

WRI further points out that setting up renewable energy projects is especially beneficial to poor people living outside the urban areas because wind farms and solar power plants require vast expanse of land that is only available in rural areas. At the same time, the majority of India’s poor reside in rural communities. Thus, India’s vigorous promotion of renewable energy industries presents a great opportunity to reduce the country’s poverty rate.

The rural poor have difficulty accessing training centers located far away from their homes

To reduce poverty and electrify remote communities, WRI believes the Indian government must work closer with renewable energy companies and improve the current training program.

India’s Ministry of New Renewable Energy has introduced the Surya Mitra Scheme to expand the skilled labor force for solar projects. Named after Hindu deities of the sun and the light, Surya and Mitra, this training program is expected to produce 50,000 workers specializing in photovoltaic technologies by March 2020. Up to the end of September of 2016, the Surya Mitra Scheme had established 150 training centers across the country and trained nearly 7,800 workers for the domestic solar industry.

However, there are barriers that prevent the majority of the poor from accessing the training program. WRI notes that the training centers are mostly located in cities, creating commuting difficulty for those who live in villages. Furthermore, the training centers often refuse to admit women and those without a secondary school education.

Pamli Deka, manager of Electricity Governance Initiative at WRI, said that the curricula taught under the Surya Mitra Scheme often do not meet the specific needs of the renewable energy industries. Since the graduates of the program are still not fully prepared in terms of skills and knowledge, many renewable energy companies instead have launched their own recruitment drives and develop their own employee training courses.

WRI recommends that there should be curricula for entry-level jobs in renewable energy industries. The mission of would be about increasing the employment prospects of the most vulnerable segment of India’s poor, such as those without a formal education. Also, the Indian government has to improve the training and working environments so that women will not be excluded from participating.

(Picture: Pixabay CC0)

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