India to train solar army to achieve renewable targets

The government of India is planning to train 50,000 people in solar sector, a solar army to help India achieve its targets in harnessing the power of the sun.

The workforce will be trained through organizations such as the industrial training institutes (ITIs) under the government’s national skill development mission.

India has a solar generation capacity of 2,900 MW, and the government has recently revised a target of achieving 20,000 MW by 2022 to 1,00,000 MW, with an investment of around Rs.6.5 trillion over five years.

To achieve this target, there will be a requirement of land, labour and capital. This 50,000-strong solar army will be provided three to six months training in the solar energy related areas, which will also prepare them for the job opportunities that the sector will have to offer, a government official said.

There is a requirement for technicians and a plan need to be worked out under the government’s skill program, says official sources.

The Skilling India mission plans to train 500 million people by 2022 that will provide a job-ready workforce to several industries.

However, according to experts creating a solar army is not a prime concern from an on-ground execution point of view. Here manpower requirement with respect to setting up of a solar plant, utility or rooftop is largely an amalgamation of fabrication, electrical and masonry skills.

The skill up gradation needed is minimal and can be quickly achieved through on-the-job training. However, at project management level there is a growing need for qualified manpower, owing to its requirement for specialized knowledge and training, said Ajay Goel, chief executive officer, Tata Power Solar Systems.

There is an industry need for stronger focus on identifying the talent and equipping them with project management skills and global best practices, added Goel.

It should be noted that India’s per capita power sector consumption is only 940 kilowatt, the lowest in the world.

According to a study conducted by Power Grid Corp. of India, there is a total available potential of 315.7 GW of solar and wind power in Rajasthan (Thar), Gujarat (Rann of Kutch), Himachal Pradesh (Lahaul and Spiti) and Jammu and Kashmir (Ladakh), with an investment requirement of Rs.43.7 trillion spread over till 2050.

India has an energy import bill of around $150 billion, which is expected to reach $300 billion by 2030.

In a separate development, an agreement was signed between Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and Exim Bank of the US for a credit facility of $1 billion.

Sabeena Wahid
[email protected]