Interview: Rajni Bhandari

Rajni Bhandari,
AGM- Marketing at Amp Energy India
 

“Rooftop Solar Sector Needs its Own Set of Policies”

Rooftop solar in India has not been able to scale up to the level and attained critical mass although it has tremendous potential. This has been primarily due to inadequate policy push and more focus been given to utility scale solar. Rooftop solar sector needs its own set of policies directed to promote rapid deployment of assets such as removal of upper limit for net metering, better financing options, and avoiding frequent policy revisions. In an exclusive interaction series with women influencers in the power sector, Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India, interacted with Rajni Bhandari, AGM- Marketing at Amp Energy India. Here’re some edited excerpts from that interaction:

“How has been your journey so far, being a woman, in the renewable energy industry?”

I had the privilege of joining this industry in its infancy and witnessed its ascension to the centre stage of India’s energy industry. Over the past decade I have handled marketing, PR and business development across both utility and non-utility sectors. Renewable energy has come a long way in the last decade, it’s been exciting and enriching and I look forward to the future as renewable industry continues to reshape the energy industry.

“How do you see the role of women in the renewable energy sector with changing times?”

It’s heartening to note that since I have joined this industry the involvement of women in general and women leaders in particular has grown multi fold. Today women play important roles both as team members as well as functional heads across renewable developers. For example, I lead the marketing and PR functions at Amp Energy India as it rapidly expands its presence in the Indian market.
We must understand that an equal world is an enabled world. It is extremely important for workplaces to promote diversity and equality and encourage their women folks to take up greater roles. We at Amp strongly believe in it and live by it. We have set up a programme called Amp’s Women Network which is a platform for all women at Amp Energy globally to interact, coordinate and mentor women for future leadership roles within the organisation. Also, we have recently joined an initiative at the global level to demonstrate our commitment towards equal leadership and equal opportunities for women in the clean energy sector by 2030.

“What is your message for other women on joining the renewable energy industry in terms of scope/opportunities in the sector? What skill sets they require?”

My message would be for women to realise that the renewable energy industry is relatively young and is not shackled by the gender restrictions that might exist in relatively older sectors like thermal power. The canvas is wide open, and the joiners should realise that they have a wide range of women leaders in the renewable industry that are contributing to the constant growth of the sector and who can act as inspirations or mentors for them as they embark on their professional career.

“How important is the role of family in maintaining a balance between office work and family life for a working woman?”

Family plays an important role and their support is the most significant factor in people’s success especially for women. It’s been encouraging to see more and more women succeed at the workplace and this has come about due to the support of their family members. I would like to take this moment to acknowledge their contribution in our growth journey and especially the support of my family.

“What will be your suggestions for women taking a mid-career break and want to return to work?”

In the end the choice to take a mid-career break or a sabbatical is a personal one. Earlier, sabbaticals were thought of as bleak but now have come to be accepted and even encouraged by a lot of employers to support work life balance and improve quality of life. Having taken one for motherhood a few years back all I would say is that there are opportunities available for women after taking mid-career breaks. It would be helpful for women taking the break to stay connected with the industry and the developments so that they are able to get upto speed once they get back to work.

“Where did you see Indian renewable energy industry’s road towards ‘AatmaNirbhar’ in next five years?”

The Government of India has clearly laid out its initiative to reduce the industry’s dependence on imported equipment. The Indian renewable energy is well placed to make the shift, provided the domestic manufacturing industry scales up in time. I believe that self-reliance is inevitable, and it will be good for India if we are able to set up a robust manufacturing ecosystem and develop domestic capabilities that match or exceed the global quality levels as India rapidly moves towards its target of 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

“Is the availability of right kind of skilled manpower in the Indian renewables industry a challenge? What more could be done to tap this as an opportunity for India?”

India possesses one of the youngest and most well-educated work forces in the world. Having said that there is definitely a need for specialised courses focused on renewable energy since the sector is playing such an important role in the energy landscape and will continue to do so for many more years to come.

“Your outlook on the present state of rooftop solar sector in India?”

Rooftop solar in India has not been able to scale up to the level and attained critical mass although it has tremendous potential. This has been primarily due to inadequate policy push and more focus been given to utility scale solar.
Rooftop solar is most appropriate for Commercial & Industrial customers who have the highest power needs and the highest tariffs in the country. With Covid-19 resulting in disrupted operations and stretched margins for these consumers, solar rooftop or distributed generation can provide them access to cheaper and affordable power. This will help them reduce their manufacturing costs due to reduction in power costs and also mitigate their carbon footprint.
Having said that, rooftop solar sector needs its own set of policies directed to promote rapid deployment of assets such as removal of upper limit for net metering, better financing options, and avoiding frequent policy revisions.

Interview 15/01/2021 by Manu Tayal
 
 
 
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