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Solar Unlocked: Work and Thrive in the Solar power industry

Solar Unlocked: Work and Thrive in the Solar power industry

Welcome to The Zista Podcast, your essential guide through the dynamic professional landscape. Today, we’re zeroing in on a field that’s not just growing rapidly but is also pivotal in shaping our sustainable future: the solar power industry. This episode is a treasure trove for anyone eager to tap into the renewable energy sector, offering a deep dive into its opportunities and challenges.

Our guest, Ravi Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO of Dexler Energy, brings a wealth of experience to our conversation. His extensive background, from his impactful work at PWC to key roles in innovative companies like Elai Agrotech and Pyse, provides a comprehensive view of the solar energy sector. We explore the driving forces behind the rise of solar power, its technological advancements, and its promising future in the Indian context. Our dialogue also encompasses the critical influence of governmental policies in fostering this green revolution.

Significantly, this episode is a guiding light for students and those aspiring to build a career in solar energy. Ravi offers essential advice and strategic tips, shedding light on how to successfully embark on and advance in this vital and exciting domain.

Join us on The Zista Podcast as we provide you with the insights and strategies you need to make informed decisions and excel in the world of solar power.

Welcome back to The Zista Podcast, where we explore the evolving world of professional opportunities and the secrets to thriving in today’s rapidly changing job market. In this episode, we’re casting the spotlight on a sector that’s not only on the rise but is also reshaping our approach to energy and careers: the solar power industry.

In our conversation with Ravi, we delve into the vibrant and promising world of solar power. He offers us a window into the motivations and ambitions that drive entrepreneurs in this field, highlighting the potential and impact of solar energy. We’ll explore the forefront of solar technology and innovations, understanding how these advancements are setting new standards and opening up new possibilities.

But that’s not all. This episode takes a closer look at the future of solar energy in India, examining its growth trajectory and the broader implications for the energy sector. We also discuss the crucial role of government policies in nurturing the adoption and expansion of solar power.

For our listeners curious about career paths in this domain, Ravi sheds light on the myriad of opportunities within the solar power industry. From engineering and research to policy advocacy and business development, he outlines the skills and mindsets needed to succeed in this exciting field.

This episode is more than just a discussion; it’s a resource for anyone interested in the intersection of renewable energy and career opportunities. Whether you are a student, a professional looking to switch careers, or simply someone interested in the future of renewable energy, this episode provides valuable insights and practical advice to help you navigate the exciting world of solar power. Join us on The Zista Podcast to explore how solar energy is not just shaping our world but also offering new pathways for professional growth and success.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The solar manufacturing landscape is rapidly evolving with technological innovations like mono perc technology and bi-facial panels, emphasizing the need for continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies in this sector.
  • Compared to other renewable sources, solar energy requires less preliminary study and can be deployed more rapidly. This underscores the practicality and growing potential of solar energy in places like India.
  • The Indian government’s initiatives to support solar energy, such as economic incentives and policy changes, highlight the importance of understanding regulatory environments and how they can impact industry growth.
  • With a potential for 1 million jobs in energy generation and additional opportunities in manufacturing, the solar power industry offers a wide range of career prospects for students, from engineering to project management.
  • The industry requires a mix of technical, design, and business skills, indicating the need for interdisciplinary knowledge and flexibility in skill development.

 

Q1. What inspired Ravi to start a solar energy focused company?

A: Ravi’s inspiration to start a solar energy company stemmed from his extensive career, beginning in the early days of electricity reforms in India. At that time, the sector was heavily reliant on fossil fuels, with a primary focus on electricity sector reforms rather than on the type of energy generation. However, as the country’s needs evolved, Ravi witnessed a shift from coal-based energy to hydroelectric plants, and then to wind and solar technologies.

During his tenure at PWC, Ravi gained exposure to various energy technologies, particularly wind, hydro, and solar. He found these to be cleaner and more environmentally friendly compared to traditional coal-based energy. This experience coincided with a global trend towards greener energy sources, prompting Ravi to consider the potential for a similar transition in India, inspired by Germany’s leadership in solar energy.

Ravi’s journey towards founding a solar energy company was further influenced when he met Anand, his future co-founder. Their shared enthusiasm for renewable energy and belief in its transformative potential in electricity consumption led to a partnership. Together, they envisioned renewable energy, particularly solar, as a viable future for energy consumption.

This shared vision and their combined experiences eventually led to the establishment of their solar-focused company. Ravi’s journey is marked by a blend of professional growth, evolving energy landscapes, and a commitment to sustainable energy solutions, culminating in his venture into the solar energy sector.

Q2. What are the latest innovations and trends in Solar manufacturing?

A: Ravi discusses the evolving landscape in solar manufacturing, emphasizing some significant changes in India. Initially, India heavily relied on Chinese imports for solar equipment. However, recent government initiatives, including the elimination and reduction of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, aim to encourage domestic manufacturing. This shift is crucial for India, promoting local production and reducing dependence on external sources, especially for solar equipment needed for solar plants.

In terms of technological innovations, Ravi notes a marked advancement in recent years. Previously, manufacturing in the solar sector was not notably innovative, limited to small capacities. Now, there’s a surge in new technologies and increased capacities. Key developments include mono perc technology in solar modules, bi-facial panels that capture light from both sides to increase efficiency. Other high-efficiency technologies like Topcon and heterojunction technology (HJT) are also making their way into the market.

This rapid evolution in solar manufacturing technology is a significant trend. Every year brings new developments, making the sector more dynamic. The industry is at a stage where new manufacturing capacities are being established, integrating these novel technologies. This progression signifies a major shift from the earlier approach, which was more focused on minimal capacities and less advanced technology, to a more innovative and self-sustaining model in solar manufacturing.

Q3. How will Solar Panel usage evolve in India in the coming years?

A: Ravi underscores the significant potential for growth in solar panel usage in India, bolstered by the country’s abundant sunshine. He contrasts solar energy’s ease of implementation with the complexities of other renewable energy sources. For instance, wind energy demands extensive studies to understand wind patterns, assess optimal locations, determine cutting speeds, and decide turbine heights, requiring 12 to 18 months of planning. Similarly, large hydro projects need substantial hydrological and geological data, considering potential collapses, impacts on livelihoods, and environmental effects, which can extend the preparation phase to over 24 months.

In comparison, solar energy is much simpler to implement. The process mainly involves procuring the right equipment and employing skilled technicians to set it up, without the need for extensive preliminary studies. This simplicity and efficiency make solar energy a more attractive option for rapid deployment.

Ravi anticipates a significant increase in solar energy usage in India, driven by the government’s ambitious goal to achieve 500 gigawatts of renewable energy, with 280 gigawatts from solar. This target implies an annual deployment of about 100 gigawatts of solar energy. Although Ravi doesn’t provide specific details on the geographical footprint of this expansion, he is optimistic about solar energy’s growing role in India’s energy mix. He notes the current reliance on fossil fuels for the majority of electricity but foresees a shift, with solar energy becoming a major player in India’s energy landscape in the years to come.

Q4. How Has the Indian Government Responded to Encourage the Adoption and Deployment of Solar Energy?

A: Ravi discusses the Indian government’s role in promoting solar energy, noting the significant economic improvements in the sector. He draws an analogy between solar power and mobile phones, recalling how mobile phones were once expensive and bulky, much like solar power used to be. However, solar has now become economically accessible, with large-scale power generation costing around 3 rupees per unit, compared to the higher rates traditionally paid for electricity, especially in metropolitan areas.

While individual capital deployment in solar energy is not yet widespread, corporations have recognized its benefits and are adopting it on a large scale. One key factor that could further smoothen the adoption process is improved coordination between state and central governments regarding regulatory and policy aspects of electricity. Addressing these elements could accelerate the adoption of solar energy.

Ravi believes that increased deployment of solar energy is inevitable. As the industry grows, it will likely exert pressure on the government to simplify regulations and policies, further fostering the expansion of solar energy in India.

Q5. What job opportunities are available for students in the Solar Power industry?

A: Ravi highlights the vast job potential in the solar power industry for students. According to a study he references, the energy generation segment of solar and renewables could create about 1 million jobs, excluding manufacturing. In manufacturing alone, there’s a potential for 10,000 jobs. With India aiming for 100 gigawatts of capacity, this could position the country as a net exporter of solar panels and related equipment.

From an employment perspective, there’s a current high demand for various professionals. This includes engineers (electrical and civil), as well as skilled and semi-skilled workers for plant operation and maintenance. Breaking down the 1 million jobs, about 40 to 50% would be semi-skilled roles requiring basic engineering and electrical knowledge. Another 20% would involve design aspects, where knowledge of CAD and other design tools is crucial.

Besides these, there are roles in business development, operation and maintenance, project management, and design engineering. This scope doesn’t even account for indirect job creation in areas like financing, transportation, logistics, storage, warehousing, distribution, third-party assessments, research labs, and testing labs. The expansion in manufacturing will also lead to indirect job opportunities.

Furthermore, Ravi mentions the retail sector, with distributors and installers for residential projects, adding to the job market. Considering this entire value chain, he is optimistic about the substantial employment potential in the solar power industry.

Q6. How can aspiring professionals prepare for a career in the Solar Power industry?

A: Ravi offers guidance for those looking to build a career in the solar power industry. He emphasizes the importance of having a strong foundation in engineering, specifically in fields like civil, electrical, and to some extent, mechanical engineering. This foundational knowledge is crucial for technical and semi-skilled roles.

For more specialized areas like design engineering or project management, additional skills are needed. Understanding system design is key in these roles. Ravi mentions the existence of a skill development institute for solar, offering training and certification. This institute, backed by a government-run nodal agency, can be an excellent starting point for those aiming for higher-level engineering roles or complex project involvement.

Gaining hands-on experience is vital. Ravi suggests working with smaller systems in townships or with small-scale developers, progressing to roles in consulting agencies and third-party audit firms. For project management, professional certifications like PMP (Project Management Professional) are beneficial.

In business development, sales skills are crucial, especially for product sales, solution selling, or consulting. For operational maintenance, a basic IT diploma with an understanding of electrical systems can suffice, even for freshers.

This comprehensive approach encompasses various aspects of the solar power industry, from technical know-how to professional certifications, offering a roadmap for aspirants to enter and thrive in this rapidly growing field.