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Women Working in the Rooftop Solar SectorA Look at India’s Transition to Clean Energy

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February 2019 |

Citation: IEA and CEEW (2019), "Women working in the rooftop solar sector", IEA, Paris, www.iea.org/publications/reports/womeninindiasrooftopsolar


This report takes the rooftop solar sector in India as a case study to assess the impact of a clean energy transition on women’s employment. Conducted in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA), it is based on a survey of rooftop solar companies as well as qualitative interviews with women currently employed in the sector. It identifies opportunities for better gender balance at work, as well as barriers to achieving it.

While pursuing its renewable energy targets, India is also working to realise four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: gender equality; access to affordable clean energy; inclusive and sustainable economic growth; and mitigation of climate change. India’s rooftop solar targets represent a major opportunity for sustainable development and for women’s employment.

Key Highlights

  • Women account for an estimated 11 per cent of the workforce in the rooftop solar sector in India, significantly less than the global average of women in the renewables sector, at 32 per cent.
  • However, this is higher than the percentage of women in other energy sectors in India, such as coal, oil and gas companies, and electricity utilities.

The ratio of female employees in selected sectors in India

Note: The ratio indicates the simple average of the ratio of female employees of companies that disclose the information. 130 out of about 5 000 listed companies in India disclose gender-disaggregated employment numbers. Of those, there are 19 in industrials sector, 9 in utilities sector, 9 in oil, gas and coal, 5 in communications, 24 in financials, and 7 in technology.

Source: IEA-CEEW survey 2018, company disclosure. Bloomberg LP (2019), Bloomberg Terminal

  • Women’s participation varies across the value chain of rooftop solar companies. The design and pre-construction phase, and corporate segment – which offer mostly office-based positions – have a relatively high share of female employees at 18 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively.
  • In the area of construction and commissioning, women constitute three per cent, and, in operations and maintenance, a mere one per cent. Both areas involve frequent site visits or onsite work.

The share of female employees in India’s rooftop solar sector, by position

Note: Technical positions indicate positions classified as highly skilled jobs, for example, engineers and project managers in core business and accountants and HR specialists in corporate segment. The ratio of non-technical staff was asked in the survey but the responses are not displayed here due to the insufficient number of usable responses.

Source: IEA-CEEW survey, 2018

  • Factors governing the low representation of women include a lack of access to opportunities for women due to safety and security concerns at project sites and misperceptions of women’s capabilities in some roles, insufficient human resource policies beyond legally mandated requirements, societal norms and practices at workplaces that fail to factor in the differentiated needs of women, and consciousness among employees.
  • There is scope for policy makers to create gender-targeted policies to enable companies to advance toward gender parity and ensure that the sector’s growth will be gender-inclusive by tapping in the large, underutilised pool of India’s highly educated women.

While India has shown a strong commitment towards a clean energy transition through its renewable electricity installation target for 2022, deployment of rooftop solar technology has been slow. With the potential to create a large number of jobs in general, the rooftop solar sector also generates the types of jobs attractive to highly skilled women in particular, a largely untapped pool in India.

Given both the high number and diverse types of jobs that the rooftop solar technology sector generates, it is well positioned to adopt a gender-responsive approach to employment which will attract professionally educated and trained women.

Source: iStock

With the potential to create a large number of jobs, the rooftop solar sector also generates the types of jobs attractive to highly skilled women in particular, a largely untapped pool in India.

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State of the Indian Renewable Energy SectorDrivers, Risks, and Opportunities

September 2018 |

Citation: Manu Aggarwal and Arjun Dutt (2018) ‘State of the Indian Renewable Energy Sector: Drivers, Risks, and Opportunities’, September


This report analyses how the interplay between risks, policies, and market developments has shaped renewable energy capacity addition in India, and identifies gaps that need to be addressed.

As of 2017, India has the world’s fourth largest installed wind capacity and the sixth largest installed solar capacity. Investment flow into the renewable energy sector in India is the second highest among developing countries. India has instituted several policy measures to support renewable energy deployment, but actual capacity addition is contingent upon how these policy measures are able to address the various risks plaguing the sector.

This stocktake, which follows an analysis of clean energy investment trends in India, aims to aid policymakers, regulators, developers, and investors assess the extent of consistency between the current state of the sector and India’s clean energy ambitions, and identify the course corrections required to further the energy transition. It focuses on the solar and wind energy sectors, given their primacy in India’s renewable energy ambitions.

Solar and wind capacities grew faster post 2014-15

Source: Central Electricity Authority monthly installed capacity reports

Key Highlights

Utility-scale solar and wind:

  • Investors find the Indian renewable energy sector increasingly attractive, as evidenced by trends in renewable energy investments in India. Sectoral risks are lower, as reflected in the decline in auction-determined utility-scale renewable energy tariffs.
  • Policy-level interventions have reduced the uncertainty of demand, facilitated the setting up of supporting infrastructure, helped mitigate offtaker risk, and offered preferential treatment to renewables in the form of exemptions from inter-state transmission charges and must-run status.
  • Policy-related measures have been augmented by favourable market developments: declines in unit costs of PV modules and wind turbines; and favourable changes in the terms of financing.
  • Lower risk perception of renewable energy investments, supported by a favourable international financing environment have translated into more favourable terms of financing.

Solar rooftop:

  • Capacity addition has lagged behind in the underserved rooftop solar segment. Policy measures aimed at incentivising rooftop solar deployment have had implementational challenges at the discom level, and the flow of finance to the rooftop solar segment has been limited by the lack of bankability of projects. Public sector capital should be deployed in such ways in order to stimulate growth in such underserved market segments.

List of top Indian states by installed rooftop solar capacity (as of September 2017)

Source: Bridge to India

Existing and evolving risks:

  • There is considerable variation among states in the supportiveness of regulatory frameworks, financial health of discoms, and the future demand potential for electricity. These variations differentiate states in terms of attractiveness for investment.
  • The uncertainty surrounding the potential imposition of duties on imported PV modules has hampered investment, while the increased competitiveness of generation could lead to the withdrawal of support mechanisms such as the must-run status.
  • Stricter implementation of some existing policy measures is needed to raise their effectiveness. Additional interventions are needed to address major risks for RE capacity addition, particularly the challenge of RE integration.
  • In order to integrate greater RE capacity into the grid, T&D infrastructure, and scheduling and forecasting capabilities, need strengthening; and curtailment risk needs to be mitigated by robust contractual provisions and financial instruments.
While renewable energy capacity addition has increased over the past few years in India, existing and evolving risks need to be addressed to scale up deployment to the level of the country’s ambitions.

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