Saturday, 30 September, 2023

Coal transition in India won’t lead to job losses

India won't experience any job losses in coal-dependent regions as it transitions towards renewable energy, provided the country designs its systems correctly, says Ajay Mathur, Director-General of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

In an interview with PTI, Mathur also said energy security remains a driving force, especially in view of the Russia-Ukraine war impacting traditional energy sources.

While India doesn't intend to fully eliminate coal, the sole dependable energy source in the nation, there is a target to diminish coal's contribution from the existing 50 per cent in the energy mix to around 30 per cent and have 500 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Addressing concerns about loss of jobs as India moves away from coal, Mathur, who has also been a member of the Indian Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change, said the renewable sector holds promise for employment generation, particularly at the user level.

"We need far more trained electricians who can maintain the solar systems you and I set up in our own houses," the energy sector expert said, stressing the need for skilled professionals in the industry.

"It is quite possible that if we design systems right, the last coal plants close on the day the last coal miner retires, so there'll be no job issues on that side," he said.

According to a study released in November 2021, more than 13 million people employed in coal mining, transport, power, sponge iron, steel, and bricks sectors will be impacted due to the impending coal transition.

The transition will have the highest impact on the people in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana, the study by think tank National Foundation for India said.