Investments in renewable energy to generate over 300,000 jobs

Key findings from a new World Bank study estimate that new investments in grid-connected and off-grid renewable energy projects in Pakistan could generate more than 190,000 direct and 137,000 indirect jobs by 2030.

The renewable energy industry provided about 14,000 direct and over 11,000 indirect jobs in 2020 against an installed base of 1,995MW of grid-connected wind and solar projects and an estimated 2,600MW of off-grid solar photovoltaic installations, according to the “Renewable Energy Jobs and Sector Skills Mapping for Pakistan” study made available to Dawn.

In the lead-up to 2030, new investments in wind and solar are expected to produce a sharp rise in renewable energy investments, increasing the demand for renewable energy workers at all skill levels. Following the Integrated Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) pathway, new investments in about 3722MW of grid-scale wind projects and 7533MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects have the potential to provide over 105,000 direct jobs by 2030.

The more ambitious renewable energy policy scenario has the potential to deliver more than 190,000 direct jobs in the renewable energy industry and an additional 137,000 indirect jobs in associated sectors. Although most direct jobs would be temporary, lasting only through the project implementation period, the renewable energy industry could provide more than 14,000 permanent jobs up to 2030.

The study notes that renewable energy investments will create more jobs for semi-skilled workers with vocational skills and unskilled labour.

Under all three scenarios, aggregate demand for semiskilled and unskilled workers accounts for approximately 75 percent of all employment created between 2021 and 2030.

The study points out that the education and vocational training infrastructure extends across Pakistan, but skills provision for renewables is lagging in regions with the highest wind and solar potential. Currently, only four per cent of the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes in Sindh and 9pc in Balochistan offer vocational renewable energy training for semi-skilled workers. Similarly, only five universities in Sindh and one in Balochistan offer degree courses relevant to renewable energy.

Despite a recent slowdown in renewable energy investments, labour shortages in technical occupations persist due to a lack of field experience. More than 80pc renewable energy companies provide some form of in-house training to employees in technical roles. Employment in renewable energy is marked by a heavy reliance on part-time or temporary workers and low female participation in both technical and non-technical professions, the study says.

Although the higher education and TVET delivery system extends across Pakistan, systemic weaknesses in the skill delivery system have the potential to undermine RE workforce development in the medium and long term.

The government has adopted ambitious national renewable energy targets under the Renewable Energy Policy 2019, which sets out a growth trajectory for grid-connected, non-hydro renewables, mandating at least 20 percent renewables in the country’s installed power generation capacity by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030.

The government has simultaneously approved a comprehensive power generation capacity expansion plan, the Integrated Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2021-2030. Since large hydropower makes up the bulk of capacity additions in the IGCEP, new wind, solar, and bagasse projects included in the IGCEP account for about 11,700MW as compared to 16,300MW of non-hydro renewable energy needed to meet the national renewable energy targets.

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