In light of the fast-declining state of the environment and the world’s ecological balance, sustainability as a concept has become a driving principle of almost every country today. Owing to the rapidly falling reserves of conventional sources of energy, the adoption of renewable energy has emerged as a critical need of the hour. Solar energy, in particular, has found immense popularity as an alternative, compared to other forms of renewable energy and the solar industry has grown significantly in the last few years. India, especially, it is uniquely suited for its widespread adoption, owing to its tropical climate, and diverse topography. This, in tandem with the Government’s ambitious goal of achieving 175 GW renewable energy generating capacity by 2022, has led to the industry seeing an almost 100 percent year-on-year growth, further indicating its massive potential for job creation.
Prospective careers in the solar sector
The solar industry, especially the development of a solar power plant, comprises of several stages, with multiple roles involved in each. This presents a critical requirement for skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labor. The first among these is the business development stage, including sales, management of corporate finance, and more, and as a result, primarily requires skilled professionals. As a result, this phase has the highest potential for employment generation, majorly in the rooftop solar segment, because of the vast number of potential customers in the country.
Design and Pre-Construction is the second stage, which generally requires a 70:30 mix of skilled and semi-skilled labor, for handling project design, supervising of construction activities, and more. The highest potential of employment generation, however, lies in the third stage, Construction, and Pre-Commissioning, where 50 percent of the workforce is made up of unskilled labor. Finally, the Operations and Maintenance stage, requiring both semi-skilled and unskilled labor, is one of the most critical parts of the solar industry, playing a vital role in the upkeep and seamless functioning of solar projects.
In order to meet the target set by the Government, several solar companies have been ramping up their operations by establishing large solar companies all over the country. This has helped create a marked growth in industrial employment for the construction and development of such projects. A report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has stated that as many as 300,000 workers will be employed in India’s renewable energy sector, with the rooftop solar industry accounting for 79 percent of the same. Job searches in the sector have also increased by 76 percent, showcasing the growth of its employment potential in the country. Also, the energy-saving solutions and solar modules manufacturing segments have evolved massively, estimated to provide jobs for 45,000 individuals in the years to come.
Entrepreneurship in the solar industry
In light of the tremendous growth that the solar industry has seen, the last ten years have helped provide a significant boost to the sector’s entrepreneurship sentiment as well. As a result, business functions in the industry have evolved, spurred on by widespread innovation, and government support. The rise in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), incubation centers, and favorable policies, have led to the birth of many new businesses, assisted by improved technology and capital resources, from several organizations like the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), National Social Entrepreneurship Forum (NSEF), and more.
Social responsibility and driving employment
The sustainable nature of the solar sector and its role in environmental conservation is yet another critical factor driving young professionals to explore entrepreneurship opportunities in the industry. Owing to the urgent need to discover alternative energy sources that reduce the massive strain on the ecological balance of the world, today’s socially-conscious millennials are increasingly exploring unconventional careers in the sector. This has led to the emergence of many new businesses in varying segments including B2B, B2C, government, and more, covering a range of industries like engineering, non-technical, legal, financing, and IT. The availability of countless specialized courses for careers in the solar sector, from recognized bodies like the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has further contributed to employment generation.
The way forward
The development of innovative business models like the franchise system of operations, and the guidance and financial support that they offer have also helped solidify the solar industry’s position as one of the most promising sectors for budding entrepreneurs. The massive technological advancements in the industry have also played a key role in reducing business risks and promoting transformational business concepts. However, the most significant role in propelling the industry to greater heights, in the coming years, will be played by the environmentally-conscious millennial generation, which will also prove critical for ensuring the future of the country, and, in fact, even the world.