The Women in Energy Storage Mentoring Programme sat down with Debmalya Sen, one of this year’s mentors, to chat about his journey in renewable energy and the challenges and opportunities in the energy storage sector.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I am from India and have worked in the power sector for the last 10 years across conventional and renewables. At present, I am working as a Senior Consultant in Customized Energy Solutions with a focus on energy storage consulting.
The best thing I love about my job is that I get to be in a sector which is developing and improving every day, thus you don’t get time to be complacent and need to keep learning every day.
2) What were your goals when you started working in energy storage? Have these evolved?
I started working in a focused manner on energy storage from 2017. My initial goal was to get a grasp over this evolving technology, and I am still doing the same. What has changed over time is the sphere of interest and applications, i.e. from just focusing on RE integration it has spanned to a more holistic approach.
3) How have you adapted to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and what advice would you give someone going through similar challenges?
COVID has had a very positive impact on my journey. It gave me time to focus on my work interests with fewer distractions and travels. I could make use of the time available and spend it in a more planned manner. Yes, the initial weeks were difficult but that’s how everything works right?
My only advice is that rather than getting distracted with 10 things going on in the news and on social media, take this as an advantage to concentrate more on your individual goals which were getting delayed due to work pressure and distractions.
4) What are the opportunities for energy storage growth in your country?
India has been witnessing a sea of change in the way the Indian power sector has been operating, with the influx of renewables which today account for 24% of installed capacity. This capacity is projected to rise to 40% keeping in mind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to have 450 GW of RE in the Grid by 2030.
This also means there will be a huge necessity of a buffer in the grid to handle the dynamics of renewables. The Central Electricity Authority itself projects requirement of 108 GWh of storage in the grid by 2030. Along with the same is the increasing attraction towards EV which itself is a major proponent of energy storage.
5) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) this challenge(s)?
The world often counts age as experience, thus for me at an age which is far less in number than the majority in the sector, I have felt the need to prove myself on every platform to let people appreciate what I bring to the table. But that said, it is a good way to challenge myself every time so that I excel beyond my previous deliverable, wherever I go and in whatever I do.
6) Why did you join the Women in Energy Storage Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
I believe this is a great way to give back to society. It’s a way by which I can correct or fill those gaps which I had complained of while I was a student new to the industry. I missed these opportunities when I was new to the industry, so this is my way of contributing to see that the people who come next don’t have the same complaints.
I truly believe that even as a mentor, my mentee will bring in a sea of knowledge which I will gain from too, while I help her with what I gained from the industry over the last 10 years.
7) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the energy storage sector?
The power sector has been seeing a series of disruption in every possible way and thus it’s the best time to be in this industry. The industry has also been able to come out of its image of being a male-dominated sector so take advantage of this disruption and lets together set forward a new normal which itself will change every day.
Just remember to keep learning, unlearning and relearning every day and you will always keep enjoying a sustainability edge in here.
Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here.
Become a mentor – what’s in it for you?
GWNET is looking for senior professionals who are eager to make a difference and have a positive impact on a younger woman’s career in the energy sector. With the ever-changing dynamics of the business fields, digitalisation, knowledge and knowledge sharing has become more important than ever. As a mentor, you get the opportunity to give something valuable back to more junior professionals and to expand your own knowledge through your mentees’ perspective. Mentoring will contribute to personal and professional development for both you and your mentee, as well as, shaping the direction of future generations within your field of expertise.
If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor in one of GWNET’s mentoring programmes (which involves approx. 1 – 1.5 hours of engagement per month plus optional participation in knowledge-transfer webinars), kindly fill-in the Mentor Datasheet.