Chennai: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting an ambitious target of adding 1 lakh mega watt of solar power in the country by 2019, the ministry of new and renewable energy has estimated a need for 4.25 lakh solar energy professionals to successfully operate and manage these power plants. But a dearth of good, qualified manpower may play spoilsport in the development of the solar sector in the country, say industry sources.
“The biggest challenge facing the sector is shortage of qualified and trained manpower. We require manpower to make installation and maintenance but there are hardly any trained people,” Kunwer Sachdev, managing director, Su-Kam Power Systems Limited, told DC.
More manpower is required for making small kilowatt scale rooftop installation than megawatt scale projects, he said. “Small-scale rooftops will be scattered across the different areas. It is going to create a lot of employment opportunities once the rooftop scheme picks up. Hence, you need more manpower for making installation and maintenance of rooftops solar systems,” he said, noting that requirement of manpower would be felt more in Tamil Nadu with the state expected to be a leading state in the rooftop solar sector.
Mr Sachdev said his company was partnering with educational institutions to train manpower. “We are recruiting diploma-holders or with any certificate courses. They will be paid Rs 12,000 during the six-month training period after which they will get a salary of Rs 15,000,” he said.
Dr R. Velraj, director of the institute of energy studies, Anna University, said the solar sector cannot grow without adequate manpower. “University courses and curriculum do not meet the specific skill requirement of the renewable energy industry. The curriculum must focus on technology and design. Also, the institutions should provide extensive training and exposure on latest trends and technologies,” he said.
The professor said Anna University was the first university in the country to start M.E. Solar Energy programme in 2010. Across the country, over 50 institutes are offering master level programme on Solar and about 1,000 students are benefiting, he said, pointing to the shortage of skilled ITI-trained candidates who have exposure to renewable energy. “The syllabus of ITI needs to be revisited to strengthen and build awareness on RE,” he said.
“We have partnered with Teda and private companies to hold training programmes for academicians, engineers and technicians. On this experience, we are planning to train trainers in the next one year,” he said. Anna University has been identified as one of the partners for solar energy training network which plans to train 4.25 lakh qualified and skilled manpower in solar energy sector, he said.
A senior Teda official said manpower requirement for setting up solar plant, utility or rooftop is largely a combination of fabrication, electrical and masonry skills.
“For ITI students with electrical background, the skill upgradation needed is minimal and can be through on-the-job training. However, at project management level, there is a growing need for qualified manpower as it requires specialised knowledge and training,” he added.
Location: Tamil Nadu