The solar power sector created 164,400 jobs by the end of 2016-17, while solar heating gave jobs to 17,000 people. The wind industry has spawned 61,000 jobs. This is according to a recent report by the Abu Dhabi-headquartered International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Solar accounted for most of the new jobs. “New solar installations reached a record 9.6 GW in 2017, effectively doubling the total installed base of the technology in the country. Employment in solar PV increased by 36 per cent to reach 164,400 jobs, of which 92,400 were in on-grid applications,” says IRENA’s Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2018 .

Sectoral break-up

The agency estimates that the construction and installation segment of the value chain accounts for 46 per cent of these jobs, with O&M and manufacturing representing 35 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.

All the sub-segments of the renewable energy industry taken together, such as bio-fuels and small hydro but excluding large hydro projects, the Indian renewable energy industry employed an estimated 432,000 people by the end of 2016-17, the IRENA report said.

As of March 31, 2017, India had installed solar power capacity of 12,288 MW. The country has added 9,010 MW since then. Likewise, India’s wind power capacity stood at 31,177 MW and end March 2017, and in the next one year the country added 1,766 MW.

To put the job-creation levels in perspective, a 2015 report of the Delhi-based Centre for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the New York based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said that the Indian solar sector would generate more than a million jobs by 2022, if the country meets the 100 GW target by that year.

Conservative estimates

The CEEW-NRDC report also said the wind industry would put on the table 183,500 jobs by 2022, if it met the government’s target of 60 GW by that year. Wind capacity in India stood at 34,043 MW at the end of March this year. A draft study titled ‘Economic rate of return for various renewable energy technologies’ that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy brought out in January showed that the government’s estimates are more conservative than those of CEEW-NRDC. It calculates that 691,857 highly, semi and unskilled manpower will be required by 2022 for solar, 124,200 for wind and 87,245 for small hydro. The government has come up with per-MW estimates of jobs required based on a “Skill Gap Report for Solar, Wind and Small Hydro Sector” by Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) published in 2016. IRENA’s estimate of 164,000 solar jobs as of March 2017 corresponds to a solar installed capacity of 12,288 MW, which is 12 per cent of the targeted capacity. The employment generation numbers are then encouraging—23 per cent of the estimated requirement of jobs has been created for 12 per cent of the capacity. For wind, the estimate of 61,000 jobs means 49 per cent of the estimated requirement of manpower, for 52 per cent of the capacity target met.

Global scenario

The IRENA report says that as at end December 2017, the world had created 10.3 million green jobs, 5.3 per cent higher than a year before. 43 per cent of these jobs were in China.

Solar alone accounted for 3.4 million jobs, and 88 per cent of this is in Asia (mostly, China). In 2017, the world added 94,000 MW of solar power capacity, compared with 73,000 MW in 2016. Wind employs 1.15 million by 2017, 0.6 per cent lower than a year ago.