Green Jobs Are Finally A Mainstream Reality In India, Thanks To Solar

Green Jobs Are Finally A Mainstream Reality  In India, Thanks To Solar

The news of India’s ambitious solar and renewable energy targets  has thrown up the possibility of as many as one million jobs in another three years’ time. These jobs matter, not only to an economy always seeking opportunities for its citizens, but also to ease the faster acceptance  and spread of renewable energy, especially solar.

Several reports released this year state that by 2030, the transition to clean energy would pave the path for 10.3 million jobs globally. Given the global rank (4) India is expected to occupy by 2025, the emergence of the sector as a key employer looks certain.

The Government seems alive to the opportunity too, taking proactive steps to provide a training boost, and ensure availability of manpower for the sector’s expansion. The MNRE has introduced several initiatives in this direction, of which, the Suryamitra Skill Development Programme in particular has been gaining momentum. The training program strives to equip aspirants with an apt skillset to work in the solar sector. This entails the profile of a Solar PV Technician. The program has already trained 78,000 aspirants between 2015 and July 2021. These initiatives are set to pay off as hiring steps up for the higher targets ahead of the industry in India from both the private and public sectors.

solar and wind industry employ workers of mixed skill level

Source: CEEW

Areas Poised For Massive Employment Rates

Within the RE sector, there are several profiles that are set to offer (or are already offering) more jobs than the other.

Non-Niche Areas

shreya mundra

Shreya Mundra, Amp Energy India

Shreya Mundra, Head, HR, Amp Energy India (a leading developer with a strong presence in the C&I segment)  sheds light on this aspect of employment, “Renewables and sustainability is a growing sector and is the current favourite of job seekers since candidates these days, especially the younger talent, is looking for opportunities that contribute towards sustainable development.”

Multiple roles witnessing massive hiring are being etched out in the sector already and there is room for employment into wider profiles, as the organisations claim.

Gautam Das

Gautam Das, Oorjan Cleantech

Gautam Das, Founder & CEO, Oorjan Cleantech Private Limited shares, “The ecosystem is huge and can accommodate people from diverse backgrounds like sales, operations, engineering, accounting, financing etc.”

Sonam Yadav, HR, Amplus Solar, reaffirms this and says that “Business Development and Sales, Designers, Procurement, Marketing, and technology” are high on demand. She states that because India’s solar energy sector is growing significantly, there are more jobs, “The demand for design engineers, technicians, solar installers, operation and maintenance teams, performance data monitors and researchers is always high.” She reaffirms that “rapidly expanding organisations like Amplus Solar” require aspirants to bring skill sets that foster sales and businesses to the table.

Akanksha Tyagi

Akanksha Tyagi, CEEW

The Council For Energy  Environment and Water (CEEW), a thinktank on the sector, has many insights to offer. Akanksha Tyagi, Programme Associate from the organisation shares that “As capacity expands, these companies (developers and EPC players) could take up multiple projects. Therefore, they would need to hire more people for more roles, which would include  business development, internal administration and finance departments etc. For delivering on the projects, developers often hire contractual workforce or delegate it to EPC.”

The Coming Boom In Manufacturing

With new impetus to manufacturing with schemes such as the PLI (Performance Linked Incentive) scheme, a new area of jobs growth will open up. Tyagi adds that “As new manufacturing capacities would be deployed under the PLI schemes for solar and battery, there’ll be new additions to the jobs and workforce. For instance, 10 GW of fully integrated solar manufacturing capacity can create over 10,000 jobs. 41,200 jobs can potentially be created (across production of polysilicon, ingot and wafer, cell and module) from the planned manufacturing capacity in India,” concludes Akanksha. Gautam Das adds his perspective here, “Renewable energy market is huge and evolving very fast. It has an opportunity to employ 10-20 lakh people in the next ten years and boost manufacturing in India.”

Amol Anand

Amol Anand, Loom Solar

Amol Anand, Co-founder & Director, Loom Solar, a solar startup with a focus on tier 2 and 3 cities besides rural India, is equally bullish about hiring, in order to keep pace with the company’s rapid expansion, “We will be constantly hiring more people.

Since December 2021, we have constantly increased our manpower by 40 % and we are further planning a 100% jump in capacity till December of this year.”

Gautam Mohanka

Gautam Mohanka, Gautam Solar

Also on a major expansion spree is Gautam Solar, an established domestic manufacturer with a presence across multiple segments in the renewable energy domain. Gautam Mohanka, Managing Director, Gautam Solar says, “The hiring outlook of Gautam Solar is very positive for the next few months as we are planning to enhance the hiring to keep up with our manufacturing expansion to 1 GW for solar modules. The hiring will be done across all disciplines at Gautam Solar – sales and marketing, operations, and production.”

Distributed RE Jobs To Create Larger Number of Jobs

As per CEEW, since they are labour intensive, any form of distributed renewable energy, such as rooftop, mini/microgrids, bioenergy etc. has the potential to create more jobs that are local and well distributed, than utility-scale systems (wind, solar, hydro etc.). This can also be attributed to the fact these jobs do not depend on consumer segments or the power off-taker.

Scope In O&M

Speaking of O&M related jobs and their growth, Akanksha adds a nugget of information, “These would definitely grow but not proportional to the capacity deployment as the same team can work on multiple projects.”  Additionally, a majority of jobs in the sector are short-term in nature, such as project planning and construction while only a few are long term, such as O&M. Plus, O&M has seen the biggest impact of robotics, as in robotic cleaning systems for PV plants, a job that was almost completely manual till a few years ago.

Opportunities in Energy Storage/ Residential Solar

Sonam envisions the job market gaining pace as the RE sector expands and diversifies, including storage integration and RE hybrid systems. Power digitalisation, the advent of green hydrogen and the increase in residential solar adoption will only accelerate career prospects in the sector.

Speaking of India’s residential rooftop solar market, the development here has been far from impressive. As per a Bridge To India report, until June last year,  total rooftop solar capacity accounts for a dismal 17 per cent of targets.

Saurabh Aggarwal

Saurabh Aggarwal, Navitas Solar

Saurabh Aggarwal, Head-Taxation & Logistics, Navitas Solar, however, remains upbeat about rooftop solar expansion and the career opportunities it would create in the process, “Till now, we have touched a small percentage of residential rooftop solar. Yet there is a huge potential and opportunities especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. We definitely think that there will be much penetration in residential rooftop solar segment and that will create a huge pool of job opportunities.” Navitas is also expanding its own module manufacturing capacity from o.2 GW to 0.5 GW annually.

Other Opportunities

Gautam Mohanka, shares an interesting insight, “The expansion of the renewable energy sector, with solar energy leading the way has opened up demand for up-skilled or semi-skilled workers for maintenance and operations, installation and sales jobs. Thereby, the job opportunities can be a major booster for the country’s overall economy. For India’s ambitious plan to become a 5 trillion economy by 2024-25 with a sustainable growth trajectory, solar energy will be playing a major role and will eventually generate massive job opportunities across the solar value chain, including procurement, manufacturing and marketing. The government has earlier stated that the solar manufacturing industry in the country is providing 29,900 new jobs every year. The solar manufacturing capacity of India is currently 11,500 MW and each megawatt provides 2.6 jobs per year.” He further shares his view that is extremely optimistic and hopeful about the job creation in solar energy sector, “According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) data, India has surpassed Italy to clinch the fifth global position in solar power deployment, while the top four countries remain to be China, the United States, Japan and Germany. The country added a record 10 GW of solar energy to its cumulative installed capacity – the highest capacity addition in twelve months, recording nearly a 200 per cent year-on-year growth. The country has also surpassed 50 GW of installed solar capacity, as on 28 February 2022. These promising figures indicate the increasing job scope in the solar sector – both for residential rooftop solar and utility scale. To ensure a steady installation of the targeted solar rooftops, the government is aggressively addressing key challenges like regulatory roadblocks, net metering limits, Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on imported cells and modules, issues with the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM), unsigned Power Supply agreements (PSAs), banking restrictions, etc.”

With the focus on installation, much like the construction sector, the solar sector also tends to offer mostly short term jobs, when it comes to workers. Large MW scale projects can be completed  in anything from 2 months to 12 months at most, making most workers transient. Firms try to maintain a minimum roster of full time employees, but the dependence on temporary hiring is high.  That is one reason that despite being one of the few sectors to get exemptions from lockdowns during the pandemic, the sector still suffered, thanks to difficulties in mobilising workers for large projects.

As solar capacity on the ground goes up, “Efficient customer support, that can handle sales and customer complaints is in huge demand and we also look to increase the amount of distributors across the nation who can help in rolling out solar across the nation,” reveals Amol Anand, Co-Founder & Director, Loom Solar.

Source: CEEW

– Floating solar:

Project deployment: electrical, mechanical, civil (EMC) and hydraulic engineers

Float manufacturing: Marine architecture, plastic blow-moulding

– Battery (manufacturing):

o  Mining and metallurgy

o  Material and electrochemical science

o  Computational modelling

–  Energy storage
(deployment and operation):

o   EMC engineers

o   HVAC personals

o   Power system operator

Source: CEEW

Transition To Green Jobs More Seamless

Most companies agree that transition into solar energy, from conventional forms of energy, such as oil, thermal, wind, small hydro and green hydrogen, is easy and seamless. Shreya says that this is because “one just has to have the basic idea to understand the scale and nuances of the business.” Being a relatively young sector, many senior and middle management roles are in any case taken by entrants from other sectors.

“The scope to shift into the solar sector, for roles such as communications, creative, research and marketing backdrops, is immense”, reveals Sonam. At the same time, companies are now more open to embracing employees from non-energy sectors. “In our commercial roles, many of our key personnel are from non-energy industries”, she tells us, offering a ray of hope to aspirants looking to make a mark in the energy sector from non-energy backgrounds.

green jobs

Arming Candidates With The Right Skillsets

Both government-led bodies and private institutions are leaving no stone unturned to equip candidates with the right skillset that can help make them a better fit for the industry that is to witness job creation at an unprecedented level. Says Akanksha, “The Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) is making considerable progress in trainings, not just for the RE sector but also across the green job portfolios. They periodically update the qualification packs and curriculum to meet the requirements.” She further makes a mention of the Suryamitra Program, that is furthering the cause, “The programme has improved over the years. Several training centres have come up and the industry is aware of this programme and the graduates.”

 Private organisations are steering the future of aspirants effectively in the sector.

Gautam Solar, for instance, provides internal training to its employees and has even developed internal training and development programs. The organisation is thus equipped with experienced and skilled personnel and make for the right cultural fit.

At Navitas Solar, various trainings for employees are being organised this year like training for soft skills, MS excel, electrical safety, energy management and audit.

Amp Energy India, at the same time, is capitalising on its employees’ existing skillsets by identifying learning potential in their candidates rather than targeting a specific skill set. Opportunity giving, training and developing skills seems to be the mantra here.

Sonam points out that, “Many positions at Amplus combine work from two departments/teams at other similar organizations. On the other hand, a few roles require niche skills. In cases like the latter, the gap comes with the unavailability of the right resources for the few available. Growth-oriented trainings for the existing talent pool makes the workforce competent to handle multiple responsibilities and encourage personal growth of the employees.”

 At other organisations such as Oorjan, roles, though as well defined as they can be in a startup company, flexibility brings the opportunity to learn and acquire new skillsets that come in handy for everyone in the long run.  Their platform ‘Greenstitute’ also offers skills training and jobs in firms beyond Oorjan to candidates.

The Gaping Gaps in Job Supply & Demand; Hiring Trends

There continue to be gaps between the kind of skills that the industry expects the candidates to bring to the table and the kind of skills that the candidates have on their resumes.

Saurabh Aggarwal sheds light on why hiring in solar companies in particular is challenging, “Frankly speaking, hiring quality manpower is not an easy task at all. With our experience of a decade, candidates having experience purely in solar companies are beneficial to us but they’re somewhat difficult to hire because hiring is a time-bound project and it is essential that vacancy and candidate’s willingness must intersect to get the right personnel for the job.” He adds how adaptability is a rare quality/ skill found in aspirants of today, “Adaptability is essential. Candidates are not willing to adapt to the changes/roles/responsibility quickly and that’s the key thing we look up to in any candidate. A company cannot function in the same way throughout, some things and processes will be continuously changing and with those changes, the roles of employees will also change.”

 Sonam points out that hiring for niche roles, in particular, is far from easy, “A few roles require niche skills. In cases like these, the gap comes with the unavailability of the right resources for the few available.”

From The Lens Of The Candidates

While private organisations confront their own set of hiring challenges, candidates have their own vexing troubles that keep them from staying for a longer time in the sector, or perhaps not even giving it a thought. To begin with, Akanksha shares that retention in this sector is harder because of the remuneration offered by companies, a fact coming from being part of the commoditised power sector.

The Pink Share in Green Jobs

As per the findings of a survey led by IEA in 2019 on women in the workforce for the rooftop solar sector in India, “Women account(ed) for only 11% of the workforce in the companies surveyed.” This, when compared to the global average of women in the renewables sector (32 per cent), is abysmally low. It further revealed that the “participation of women is particularly low in roles involving frequent travel and a required onsite presence at project sites.” This explains why in the area of construction and commissioning, women constitute a mere 3%, and, in operations and maintenance, a mere 1%.”. Of course, India’s poor show here reflects its broader slide down when it comes to women’s participation in the workforce, a drop that is frankly, shameful.

The study also reflected on the importance of policy making, including at human resource level, to encourage women employment in the green sector.

Amol Anand makes his observations on the subject, “Currently there is a challenge in respect to gender parity  in terms of solar Installation, engineer visits for feasibility, or lack of women candidates playing a role as distributors which are predominantly handled by men.”

Shreya pitches in with her observations that seem to echo the study of IEA, “Given the nature of some of the profiles like construction/on-site project managers, there are gender disparities present.”

However, firms do recognise the opportunity that have to redress the balance, before disparities get entrenched.

Gautam Das declares, “Oorjan itself is cofounded by Roli Gupta, an IIT alumni. We have quite a few women team members and people across states. The company ensures a healthy work environment and carefully reviews incoming resumes / applications to maintain team diversity. A lot of of credit for this goes to our marketing team lead, Swati Singh and founder, Roli on this initiative.”

Sonam expresses her agreement on a widely recorded and accepted observation that female to male ratio is low, but is optimistic since “it is gradually improving as organisations are also looking at ways to make the workplace more equitable.” She states that women are at forefront at the organisation, “At Amplus, hirings are based on talent. We offer tremendous growth opportunities to all our employees, and many of our women employees are leading the show at Amplus and at the industry level.”

Women Wielding Power In Power Sector

Excerpt from IEAÕs study on Women In Energy Firms, 2021

“Historically women have been consistently under-represented in senior managerial positions and in the boardroom across all industries, and even more so in energy-related sectors.

According to an OECD/IEA analysis of data from just under 2 500 firms classified in energy-related sectors, women make up just under 14% of senior managers, with representation strongest in the utility sector. Excluding utilities, women hold less than 12% of leadership roles. This compares with 15.5% of the
30 000 non-energy firms in the sample.

Based on data from almost 2,500 firms and over 38,000 employees, women make up only 13.9% of senior management within the energy and energy utilities composite, which is marginally lower than in the over 30,000 firms in the sample from non-energy industries at 15.5%.

Among the energy business lines, women in senior roles are better represented in the utilities sector at 17.1%, with electric utilities and independent power plants at the low end at 16.5%, followed by natural gas utilities at 18%. Multiline utilities are at the higher end of the distribution at 20.3%.

Excluding utilities, representation for all other energy-related business lines is far lower at an average 12.1%. Somewhat surprisingly, renewable energy firms are well below the composite average at just 10.8%, and only slightly higher than the coal sector, which has the lowest representation at 10.6%. Women represented in oil and gas firms is 12.1%, while firms in the oil and gas equipment and services sub-sector were slightly higher at 13%.”

Loom Solar, on the other hand, is trying to leverage the potential of women in the sector by trying to make women play a strategic role in terms of customer support, and handle communication through influencers across all platforms.

The Money, And Courses For Solar Training

Expectedly, it’s taken some time for India’s formal educational sector to catch up with the new opportunities the sectors offers. In the past couple of years, a slew of colleges have started up courses in renewable energy, mostly at the Master’s level. At the Bachelor’s degree level, courses remain few and not always a favourite with industry firms yet.

An issue of course has been money. Salaries in the sector are aligned broadly with the power sector, hence tend to be middling to low, especially at the entry level. Firms we spoke to have quoted a range between Rs 2.8 lacs per annum to Rs 3.6 lacs for entry level full time positions.

Going ahead, one can be sure to see fine tuning of the training as well as opportunities, as the feedback loop from industry is completed with educational institutes.

Global examples like EiT Innoenergy in Europe offer a template for taking ahead quality training in India too.

"Want to be featured here or have news to share? Write to info[at]