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Warning of solar skills gap as global projects boom

The surging global growth of solar energy projects could lead to a shortfall in the specialist engineers needed to build them, according to professional services consultancy Procorre.

The company’s group operations director Stuart Livingstone said that “solar energy is continuing to grow exponentially around the world” and “countries are really starting to realise the potential of solar energy”.

However he warned that “with investment on the up and many more plants in the pipeline, we could begin to see a strain on resources in these countries. Over the coming months, we’re expecting to see a huge surge in demand for specialist contractors from across the world needed to help get these projects off the ground.”

Procorre has identified five locations that are rapidly increasing investment in their solar power industries, leading to a rise in demand for specialist contractors.

The company said that since the formation of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in November 2015 ” which comprises more than 120 countries and pledges to generate 1000 GW of solar power globally by 2030 ” it has seen a number of developed and developing countries heavily investing in infrastructure such as new solar plants to help them reach ISA production targets. “This is ramping up the need for contractors to design, build, operate and maintain solar energy infrastructure.”

The five solar energy hotspots are Japan, India, Chile, Argentina and Thailand. In Japan, Procorre says the solar market is growing rapidly, with the country currently ranking third in the world for installed capacity with 33.3 GW. India was recently given a $1bn loan from the World Bank to support the country’s solar power expansion while Procorre says Chile‘s solar industry “has expanded so quickly that it’s giving electricity away for free. Currently standing at 1.07 GW of installed solar capacity, construction of the El Pelàƒ­cano photovolataic plant, which is set to start this year, is expected to add an additional 100 MW of installed solar capacity. The Metro of Santiago will also enhance Chile’s installed capacity, with Total and Sunpower agreeing to supply 300 GW of solar power annually.”

Argentina has recently announced that 3000 MW of solar projects are planned in the country’s northern region while in Thailand in April this year, 281.32 MW of solar capacity across 67 plants was approved ” potentially bringing $512m of investment this year.