Renewable energy, emergency and disaster management now among emerging sectors for jobs: Report
The Centre has announced a special economic package worth 10% of GDP. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), along with the National Institute of Public Policy and Finance (NIPFP), has submitted a report on how parts of this package could be used.Updated: Jun 11, 2020 15:08 IST
A new official report has proposed investments in the renewable energy sector to tide over the job and economic crisis associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Centre has announced a special economic package worth 10% of GDP. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), along with the National Institute of Public Policy and Finance (NIPFP), has submitted a report on how parts of this package could be used.
Around 1.3 million full-time jobs can be created if India achieves 160 GW of solar and wind power by 2022. Further, the report proposes an amount of Rs 5,200 crore be invested during 2021-28 to create another 528,000 jobs and an economically viable market for a large share of the renewable energy. This could also greatly reduce coal imports.
Beyond 2028, the funding required for the renewable sector is likely to be zero because of its competitiveness. Accelerated renewable energy deployment will save forex from reduced coal imports, the report said.
“Even if half the generated renewable power is used to replace imported coal, India can save over Rs 6.75 lakh crore during 2021-2030 (nearly ten times the proposed outlay over the same period),” the report said. It also estimated India can save Rs 45,210 crore on oil imports each year by 2030 if 30% of cars sold in the country are electric vehicles.
The emerging sectors with potential in the post-Covid-19 era will be distributed renewable energy, hybrid energy, emergency and disaster management systems, city gas distribution and urban transportation, according to the authors.
For example, building a low-emission air conditioner servicing sector could create more than two million jobs by 2037.
Scaling up investment in distributed renewable energy can create thousands of jobs. Around 110,000 skilled and unskilled jobs can be created by 20 GW of small-and large-scale micro-grids. About 50,000 potential skilled and unskilled jobs can be created for each 4 GW of rooftop solar power, the report estimated.
NIPFP director Rathin Roy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has presented some unique challenges. India must address structural issues of the economy and adopt a sustainable recovery path to emerge stronger. Our study with CEEW reflects on the need for key reforms and suggests policy, financial, technological and behavioural solutions to create an inclusive and more resilient economic system.”
Responding to the report’s recommendations, energy economist Vibhuti Garg said, “In a post-Covid world, renewable energy makes more sense for a number of reasons. It is more competitive and cheaper than imported coal, it can create new industry for labour that have gone back to their states, and who can manufacture modules.
“Decentralised solar energy can electrify hospitals in rural areas reliably. We have already seen such hospitals treating Covid-19 patients and it is not polluting like coal, so it reduces co-morbidities associated with pollution.”
The report recommended a share of capital be used for disaster preparedness by developing a “Climate Risk Atlas”, an emergency surveillance system and a response network. Such an atlas will require Rs 5 crore for basic operation and maintenance expenses.
The atlas can cover coasts, urban heat stress, water stress, crop loss, vector-borne diseases, and biodiversity collapse.
The UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (UN-IASC) report on return on investment in emergency preparedness states that every Rs 75.35 invested for preparedness saves more than Rs 150.70 in future responses. India has spent nearly Rs 13.52 lakh crore on disaster management in the past 20 years, and the government could have saved close to Rs 6.76 lakh crore if such systems were in place, the report estimated.
Another recommendation, on learning from the Covid-19 crisis, is to deploy large-scale state-supported canteens to provide hygienic, affordable and nutritious food thrice a day to urban migrant workers (approximately 30 million). This would require a capital investment of Rs 26,500 crore for 60,000 canteens and 8,200 kitchens.
Globally, there is a push for using Covid-19 economic stimulus packages for strengthening environmental regulations. The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ experts believe governments should deploy stimulus packages that offer incentives for sustainable and nature-positive activities, and they should adopt a “One Health” approach at all levels, recognising the complex interconnections among the health of people, animals and plants and mobilising international finance to build health capacity.