The Women in Energy Storage Mentoring Programme sat down with Rutuka Dhage, one of this year’s participants, to chat about her journey in renewable energy and the challenges and opportunities for women in the energy storage sector.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
Love for nature is imbibed in me and a zeal to implement my knowledge & learning for the betterment of the planet is my passion. I have completed my engineering degree in the electrical field and further pursued my masters in energy. The electives for my coursework were always related to renewable energy, wherein lies my deep interest. I also conducted site visits to gain more knowledge and understanding of the subject which gave me satisfaction. Being an application engineer provides me with a platform to implement all my energy knowledge and learnings towards gaining small achievements in green planet development.
I’ve spent 5 years in the industry working in solar, hybrid energy and storage. The field which I’m working in is progressing continuously and the learning curve needs to be watered. Be it in terms of designing & market study of each generating component, policies & strategies being developed or progressive software’s. Having projects in hand to work on; broadens my horizons, keeps me nimble-footed and my personal interest in it makes it successful as I love to spread the positive aura.
2) What were your goals when you started working in energy storage? Have these evolved?
My goals while entering the storage field were clear, I wanted to be able to best utilize my knowledge and improve it as per the requirements. To be able to do this, the need to be in the designing team was of utmost importance and my workplace gave me the required platform. Gradually with the help of my superior’s guidance and understanding, I was able to reach my goals. My goals are evolving each day with small targets. Today, the industry is growing so rapidly that matching the pace in every direction while keeping the balance of life is tough but not impossible. My new goal is to achieve that impossible.
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?
For everyone, the balance of life is very important but for women, it comes along with additional challenges. COVID-19 has impacted me in a positive way as working from home (which was not a culture in my company) gave me enough space and time to balance work & life. I’ve been able to manage my home and work with equal enthusiasm. My family and colleagues have been very supportive. Beyond work I have time to learn new things; be it cooking chemistry in the kitchen, tricks and tips for household chores, managing my health or formatting standard documents.
My advice for this challenging time would be to keep a positive & solution-oriented attitude and speak up for any problems that you are facing. Having empathy helps boost your self-esteem and allows you to face challenges easily.
4) What are the opportunities for energy storage growth in your country?
Energy storage is being rigorously promoted by the Indian government. Development of policies that boost the manufacture of storage components as well as encouragement for the implementation of storage plants is increasing. Several tenders are being floated for renewables along with storage for round the clock supply of energy.
There is also progress in focusing on the quality of power injection in the grid. Usage of new and existing assets for efficient use is also being talked about. Cross border MoU’s have been signed to boost local manufacturing & production in the storage industry.
5) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) this challenge(s)?
I think this sector has a major challenge of mindset. This mindset begins right from the graduation level, where power sector related fields are not selected by women. Lack of awareness at that tender age leads to the influence of others guiding women towards other “female-friendly” fields. Because of this, there is a cascading effect.
However, I decided to face the first challenge and opted for ‘electrical engineering’ where the women to men ratio was 1:5. I kept following my interests and making a mark whenever possible. Lack of women role models spurred me to achieve a position and lead as an inspiration. Working hard and smart to achieve that goal without losing hope and self-motivation keeps me going. As I read it somewhere, ‘Don’t stop, you never know who is watching you’.
6) Why did you join the Women in Energy Storage Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
I believe, joining the Women in Energy Storage Mentorship Programme will provide me with guidance and encouragement as well as a global perspective. A step towards personal growth can be an encouragement for some other women like me, to come forward and achieve their dreams. Exchange of knowledge and skills will lead to betterment.
I hope to achieve leadership skills with a 360-degree purview of the global energy storage market with a detailed techno-commercial perspective. Additionally, I look forward to gaining insights into the international market and awareness about ongoing research and developments of this rapidly advancing industry. I wish to see, understand and be able to contribute to healthy competition and to achieve a wider goal for this clean planet.
7) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the energy storage sector?
Energy storage is an emerging industry and growth is as certain as the world moving towards energy neutrality. However, the challenges for women in the industry haven’t changed in terms of male-dominance. My advice to all women would be to prove your mettle by influencing and inspiring people with your knowledge and development in the sector and to grow and believe in yourself. This sector demands discipline and innovation which shows by the amount of career scope the industry brings in. All the best wishes to the women.
Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here.