The Women in Energy Storage Mentoring Programme sat down with Krishnan Rajagopalan, 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 a seasonal senior management professional in the energy industry with over 19 years of work experience. I’ve handled multiple technologies like thermal energy equipment, water and wastewater technologies, bioenergy (biomass and bio methanation), solar, small wind and battery energy storage. I am now working in the hybrid energy and storage space.
I am also an enthusiastic person with a passion for energy and the environment. I love to travel, meet different people, network, cook and clean with my wife, provide lectures and sports. I love networking and sales and I am happy doing that today on a global platform (officially). Personally, I am enjoying being with my family all the time without travel (due to Covid-19), understanding lots of family life and empathizing with many things.
2) What were your goals when you started working in energy storage? Have these evolved?
The world is moving towards transmission in the way energy is used, stored and reused. I wanted to keep evolving with the technology and I’m currently enjoying understanding the concepts around hybrid energy and how battery storage is changing the dimensions of the power industry. This is an evolving field and I am also growing myself, my knowledge, and learnings alongside the industry growth. So far the journey has been very fascinating and promising.
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?
On a surprising note, a lot of positive developments happened during this COVID 19 period, while business slowed down. The networking in the professional/business space has increased tremendously for me and resulted in business. The only issue/impact is that contracts are not getting closed at the pace with which we were expecting they would be pre-COVID 19. We have changed our approach to the issue by engaging more with customers, organizing roundtable sessions with clients to listen, share and join hands to provide optimized solutions.
4) What are the opportunities for energy storage growth in your country?
I am from India. The only country which is growing at a positive pace in these COVID 19 times, due to the sheer internal demand. Energy has always been at the forefront in India and today RE penetration is going at a high speed into the grid. This is posing lots of challenges and round the clock, RE power requirements are coming up. This has shown tremendous opportunities in the Indian market for storage both in energy application and power application.
In addition, the Electric Vehicle space is also pushing battery storage technology requirements to new heights. It is estimated that the Indian stationery storage market is expected to be 50 GWh in 2025, considering only 50% of the RE assets deploy storage solutions behind the meter and dispatch scheduled power into the grid.
5) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) this challenge(s)?
Job opportunities have obviously slowed down, as new investments are taking time. But growth prospects have increased a lot. Work-life balance has taken a toll but the COVID situation has made me realize and empathize with my wife and kids and make changes to our approach to issues. We all are facing problems and sharing has become the norm of the day.
The only way to overcome is to motivate one another, share positive messages, and shift from complaining towards empathizing/encouraging each other. Share the difficulties and understand the mental trouble everyone is going through. It is a paradigm shift in lifestyle but for the best of our future.
6) Why did you join the Women in Energy Storage Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
I have always promoted gender balance in life (on a lighter note – there are 3 women in my family, my wife and 2 daughters) and I wish my knowledge, experience and networks helps a woman professional enhance her technical and commercial skills, increase her global network, position herself strongly in her work and progress in her career. This will enhance life’s balance and put to rest many unscrupulous behaviours shown against women in society.
7) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the energy storage sector?
GWNET is a great platform with respect, opportunity, dignity, networks and support provided for all women. Come, join, learn, unlearn, relearn, prove, excel, grow and enjoy your work and life. This is an exciting journey for all who deserve and are willing to learn.
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.