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India’s Growing Cleantech Industry

Technologies and practices that aim to reduce the negative impact of human activities on the environment while promoting sustainable economic growth are referred to as cleantech (or clean technology). Cleantech is becoming increasingly important as the world faces growing environmental challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.

What fields makeup cleantech?

Cleantech is a broad and interdisciplinary field encompassing a range of technologies, products, and services designed to improve environmental sustainability and reduce negative environmental impacts. Some of the key fields that make up cleantech include:

  • Clean energy and storage refer to technologies and solutions enabling renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power while ensuring a reliable and efficient energy supply.
  • Energy and resource efficiency practices, such as smart buildings, efficient appliances, and LED lighting, reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency.
  • Sustainable agriculture techniques include crop rotation, conservation tillage, integrated pest management, agroforestry, and organic farming.
  • Electric vehicles and environmentally friendly transportation—including electric cars and trucks and bike sharing—reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower operating costs, improve air quality, and require less energy to travel the same distance.
  • Land, water, and air quality cleantech solutions include regenerative agriculture, water filtration and desalination, and air filtration and scrubbing systems.
  • Waste and recycling solutions such as waste-to-energy, composting, and smart waste management using data and analytics.

Industry goals

Many governments, businesses, and individuals are investing in cleantech to address these challenges and create a more sustainable future. In India, the number of cleantech startups working toward the country’s clean energy goal continues to rise. In fact, the global cleantech market is expected to surpass the oil market value by 2030. By 2040, India’s market size—comprised of batteries, wind, and solar photovoltaic cells (PVs)—could be worth $41 billion. As the world’s third-largest energy-consuming country, India’s energy demand will triple in the coming decades due to rapid economic growth. As part of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), India has set long and short-term goals:

  • Reduce emissions intensity by 45 percent by 2030.
  • Meet 50 percent of electricity requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030.
  • Install 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based energy by 2030.
  • Achieve a net-zero economy by 2070.

Key areas of focus

The areas of cleantech helping to drive India’s transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy and expected to continue to experience growth and development include:

Renewable energy: Ranking fourth in renewable energy and fifth in solar power capacity, India has set ambitious targets for increasing its use of renewable energy. The government has implemented numerous policies and incentives to encourage the growth of this sector, including allocating Rs. 19,500 crore (US$ 2.57 billion) for a production linked incentive (PLI) scheme to boost the manufacturing of high-efficiency solar modules and launching the Mission Innovation CleanTech Exchange to accelerate clean energy innovation. Private companies are also investing in renewable energy projects.

Energy efficiency: Improving energy efficiency initiatives—such as building retrofits, appliance standards, and energy-efficient lighting—is another critical area of focus in India. The Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) has found that 80 percent of the early adopters of cleantech livelihood appliances are women. In March, India issued four new energy efficiency policies for residential appliances to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 9 million metric tons by 2030. “The program will not only help consumers make informed choices but also incentivize manufacturers to produce more efficient products, leading to a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The positive impact of this program will be felt across society, the economy, and the environment,” states Abhay Bakre, Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).

Electric vehicles: India is looking to promote using electric vehicles (EVs) to reduce carbon emissions from transportation. The government has set a target of 30 percent of all vehicles will be electric by 2030 and has launched several incentives for EV manufacturers, including the Faster Adoption of Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles Scheme II (FAME – II) and Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) with a budgetary outlay of INR 10,000 crore and INR 25,938 crore respectively. The government also offers buyer incentives to make electric vehicles more affordable to consumers. Enhanced charging infrastructure is critical to success, and the county expects to receive 10,000+ charging stations by 2025.

Waste management: Improving waste management is another critical area of focus in India due to its burgeoning population and rapid urbanization. The waste generated by cities is projected to grow by 5 percent annually through 2050 to reach 436 MMT per year. After China and the U.S., India has become the largest producer of e-waste—electronic products no longer wanted, not working, or nearing the end of “useful life”—and has implemented new rules requiring manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to collect and recycle at least 70 percent of their electronic waste by 2024 and 80 percent by 2025.

Looking ahead

The Indian government’s cleantech initiatives, policies, and incentives have played a pivotal role in driving the need for workers in the country’s cleantech industry.

  • Clean energy employment increased by 47 percent between 2021 and 2022.
  • The solar sector added 52,000+ workers, and the wind sector added 556 new workers in 2022, and together are targeted to create 4 million new jobs by 2030—ten times more than the existing workforce. A study by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) found that “India’s renewable energy sector can employ one million people by deploying 238 GW solar and 101 GW wind capacity between FY22 and FY30 to achieve its 500 GW non-fossil target.”
  • In early 2023, the Union Cabinet approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission intending to create a skills development program expected to add 6 million jobs.
  • Agroforestry plantations, localized primary processing units, and composite panels can create jobs for up to 2-2.5 million
  • As more electric vehicles take the road, job opportunities are expected to rise 40-45 percent in the coming months.
  • Grassroots village-level programs, such as the Hariyali Gram initiative, are creating gender-empowering livelihood opportunities for women and increasing workforce participation by women.

Over the past 60 years, Acara has filled thousands of positions within the clean energy services industry. Our recruitment teams are well-versed in finding qualified candidates equipped to handle the requirements associated with these positions—including engineers, inspectors, operators, and production managers. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work together to streamline your talent acquisition needs and build the cleantech workforce you need to grow and innovate.

Author: Vigneshwaran KS, Senior Manager of Business Development