Since May 2014, the government has proposed many ambitious projects, including Make-in-India, Digital India and the creation of 100 Smart Cities, besides boosting infrastructure. These projects will only succeed, however, if power is available 24×7.
India’s per capita energy consumption 917 Kwh per capita in 2012-13 is less than one-third of China and one-tenth of the US. This demonstrates the need for higher availability of energy while also taking care of its impact on the environment. As a result, the government has increased the solar target five-fold from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2022.
India being the world’s fifth-largest wind energy producer, this target too stands revised to 60 GW by 2022. With a total installed energy generation capacity of 253.4 GW, the country still needs more power.
Besides being environment-friendly, renewable energy generates more direct and indirect jobs. It is estimated that between 2011 and 2014, solar photovoltaic projects created around 24,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs. As per official estimates, the wind sector generated 45,000 FTE jobs. Consequently, if India achieves its solar target of 100 GW, around 1 million FTE jobs could be created. But one of the biggest challenges is hiring skilled personnel.
Various power projects can come to naught if trained personnel are not available to run them.
There is a requirement of adequate manpower specialised in energy yield assessment and system design. Also, it is vital to have a deep understanding of solar radiation, performance of components, user application, etc. Rooftop solar industry requires large number of electrician cum entrepreneurs who can build local businesses as solar installers and maintenance companies. Similarly for large-scale ground installation, skills in area of module installation, DC and AC cabling, module cleaning, inverter maintenance, etc, are required. These are new fields where a large number of service sector jobs would be created.
The inadequacy of power training infrastructure to roll out high numbers is apparent. The National Power Training Institute (NPTI), Nagpur, has provided yeoman service over four decades, having trained more than 267,000 persons. Given India’s urgent power skilling needs, the government has set a three-year roadmap for NPTI to meet part of the shortfall.
Then here are hundreds of industrial training institutes approved by AICTE as well as engineering and polytechnic colleges with relevant courses. And as technology evolves, so does the need for refresher courses to update working personnel’s skills.
Another challenge for power producers lies in attracting new talent. Today’s youth seek sectors with speedy upward mobility and predefined career paths. Unfortunately, power jobs are perceived as unglamorous and bedevilled with problems, red tape and remote postings, among them. Therefore, power players should work in sync to showcase industry opportunities and create a positive brand image, while conveying the societal and national benefits of addressing India’s power shortfalls. In addition, adequate training facilities and an enabling work environment with less hierarchical hurdles can be created so the power industry is perceived as a blue-chip sector for professionals.
As the government ramps up industrialisation and infrastructure goals, power needs will soar exponentially. The success of ambitious programmes will then devolve on possessing the requisite talent pool of human resources to speedily scale up and meet power targets. Without adequate power, the programmes will fail to meet targets and timelines. The message is crystal clear since the writing is already on the wall.
The author is HR head, Hindustan Powerprojects Ltd