Friday, October 01, 2010

Renewable energy courses planned under Solar Mission

Anticipating a boom in demand for skilled personnel to power India's nascent solar industry, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is drawing up a proposal to develop specific diploma and technical training courses. According to officials in the ministry, a plethora of courses such as low- and medium- temperature solar thermal applications, and specialized programmes in solar photovoltaic and solar thermal power are proposed to be introduced in India's technical training institutes. While some programmes are being introduced for engineering students, a bulk of them are for graduates of technical training schools.

The introduction of such courses signals policymakers' plans to tap a large base of skilled workers that could effectively contribute to a small, but ambitious initiative by the government to install 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. "Introducing proper human resource development initiatives is key to a successful industry. We can't survive on imported expertise," said an official in the ministry who didn't want to be identified.

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar mission is one of the planks of the United Progressive Alliance government's response to climate change, in which it proposes --- in the first phase --- to install nearly 1,000 MW of grid-connected, highly subsidized solar power by 2013, at the cost of Rs. 20,000 crore (Rs. 200 billion). "To achieve the target of 20,000 MW of solar energy by 2022 we need to put in concerted efforts and the indigenous manufacturing of solar power equipment will be of paramount importance in achieving this goal," Bharat Singh Solanki, Minister of State for Power, said at a press conference.

Currently, it costs around Rs. 15 to produce a unit of solar electricity, which is significantly more than the coal-based approach, which costs Rs. 4-6. The government now subsidies a significant proportion --- nearly Rs. 12 --- of the cost of solar power.

Another official in the ministry said that the courses would be introduced as part of the government's National Skills Development Mission, a Rs. 31,000 crore (Rs. 310 billion) initiative. As part of this, the government plans to extend training facilities to 10 million people a month, up from 2.5 million a year.

Source: Mint, October 1, 2010
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