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Gujarat govt's new "worry": How would India realize solar energy target? It woefully lacks quality manpower

By Our Representative
A new “worry” appears to have gripped Gujarat government: Claiming to be No 1 in solar power, it is not sure how the Government of India would fulfill the solar power dream, revising the target upwards from 20 GW to 100 GW, especially when the rooftop segment, forming 40 per cent of the target, woefully lacks necessary manpower.
Suggesting that while solar power in general may have enough quality controls, a workshop held at Gandhinagar under the auspices of the state-controlled Gujarat Energy and Management Institute (GERMI) sounded a warning bell: The 40 GW, which will have to contributed by rooftop solar systems, does not have any strict quality control system.
Worse, it was suggested, India is woefully short of “skilled technicians and non-standard installation processes” for producing rooftop solar power, and the country would require at least 13 lakh technicians by 2022 in order to achieve the target of 100 GW it has set for itself.  There is, however, no data on the number of technical manpower existing for solar power as of today.
This was particularly highlighted by the BJP government’s political appointee, IM Bhavsar, chairman, Gujarat Energy Development Agency, the state agency promoting renewable energy issues, and L Chuaungo, principal secretary, energy, Government of Gujarat.
While both “specifically focused on developing teaching capacity of the instructors of the rooftop solar installers”, a note issued by the Ahmedabad-based PR agency Simulations for the GERMI workship, said, the two “dignitaries”, underlining the importance of renewable energy, insisted that there is an “urgent need for skilled manpower for meeting the substantial national targets.”
Eighteen personnel from Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, New Delhi and Goa attended the workshop. Those attended represented mainly industry bodies such as Pathfinder Ventures India, Grey Batter, Amba Township, Tata Power Co Ltd, Ichamati Society for Human Welfare and Relations, Gujarat Institute of Solar Energy, Bergen Group, and Australian Premium Solar.
The note added, “While the large-scale grid connected solar power projects have strict quality requirements, the rooftop segment currently lacks the stringent quality”, which is the “the need of the hour for administrators, project developers, industries and a young job-seeking workforce.”
Titled “Train the Trainer Workshop for Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Installers”, the workshop worked out a 12-point programme, aimed at setting up over 100 partnering training centres across the country, so that these training centers can further train 10,000 rooftop solar technicians and entrepreneurs each year.
The note does not say how 10,000 technicians would be able to fulfill the target of 13 lakh technicians needed across the country, nor does it point towards how many technicians are there in the country today for rooftop power.
“Through the training workshop, GERMI wants to develop a network of centres across the country to connect the latest solar technologies and standards to the remotest locations of India”, the note said, claiming, “The Train the Trainer workshop incorporates comprehensive educational elements including technical concepts, design, installation and maintenance.”
“In addition”, the workshop said, “The workshop also stressed on imparting the knowledge of entrepreneurship and soft skills. The classroom sessions will be supplemented with extensive hands-on activities.”
It added, “The programme is also in line with the recently launched Gujarat Solar Policy 2015, wherein it aims at 10,000 MW of solar systems, both ground-mounted and rooftop. In this policy Gujarat has announced a net-metering scheme for rooftop solar consumers.”

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