According to reports, to fulfil targets of 20,000 MW of installed capacity under the National Solar Mission, the Indian solar energy industry will need an estimated 1 lakh people by 2022 across domains, profiles and levels. That as the sector invests nearly Rs 4,337 crore by the end of the mission period.
The space has been abuzz with activity with around 40 players such as Enam Securities, Emami Group, IDFC entering in the last one year alone. “Solar power projects can be implemented in a very short time of 3-4 months compared to traditional means of power like coal and hydro and they also have a long life of 25 years. Besides, there is an additional advantage of acquiring assets like land at lower rates with help from the government, which means huge returns in the long run.
Funding too is easily available with foreign investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Blackrock, JP Morgan investing heavily in the space. This is why there has been a flood of entrants in the sector,” says Punit K Goel, CEO, PLG Power. PLG is building a 20 MW solar power plant with an investment of Rs 308 crore in Gujarat.
There has been huge increase in demand for skilled and trained manpower from these players. The profiles range from project head, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) head, project directors, GM operations/project, senior manager projects, manager projects, purchase manager, solar engineer, assistant technical manager, assistant procurement manager to manager purchase, manager operations.
“Both sides of the solar business- equipment manufacturing and power generation-need people to cash in on the growth in the solar industry. On the manufacturing side, it would be electrical engineers and mechanical engineers to design, civil, operations and maintenance engineers in power generation with experience in traditional power sector who are in high demand across levels,” says Sanjay Chakrabarti, partner and national clean tech leader at Ernst & Young, India.
The scarcity of talent is severe as there are few colleges or institutes offering courses dedicated to solar energy or renewable energy. According to some estimates, there are 25 institutes in India offering courses on energy studies, with renewable energy as one of the subjects. These include the IITs, TERI University in Delhi, Indraprastha University in Delhi, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, and Amity University in UP.
Companies have been poaching talent from top power companies in the public and private sectors. Professionals are hopping from one company to another every six months for better compensation packages.