India’s renewable energy sector is growing rapidly, all credit to the sector’s extensive pool of competent manpower who design, install and maintain the renewable energy (RE) systems in the country. There is critical need for many more such people with the right set of skills to maintain the sector’s trajectory of growth. As RE is also an integral part of the knowledge economy, it requires people with a combination of skills who are technically qualified and involved in research related to wind power and battery (storage). On the business side, the sector requires people with experience in business development, finance and operations as well as project management and asset management. With this as our backdrop let us examine the key factors that will enable the sustainable development of RE.
Focus on Skill Upgradation
Today, RE as a sector is well understood by banks and lenders. But there was a time when people did not even consider RE as a viable business. The players in this space did not just have to deal with the steps involved in fundraising. They had to educate lenders about the RE sector and convince them that it was a viable sector eligible for investments. Although scepticism about the sector’s viability is now a thing of the past, the current situation demands that people get out of their comfort zones. Existing and prospective employees must continually upgrade their skills to actively contribute to the sector’s growth.
What is great to see is that there are many instances of people already adopting such an approach. In asset management, for example, the team that analyses the performance of operational assets—the performance monitoring unit is often led by professionals who have no prior background in this area. They pick up relevant skills to ably understand the function of statistical/data science tools and refine their knowledge of the business and related capabilities to build superior performance management capacities.
Hire Right and Train Right
RE as a sector houses a combination of traditional and emerging functions. Traditional functions include accounting capabilities with people trained to serve as CAs. However, what is key here is to hire people with proven skills who are then given the opportunity to prove themselves and create an impact. In the context of emerging functions, which includes expertise in data analytics, machine learning and other related next-gen tech capabilities, organisations are best advised to consider creating a playbook first and then executing accordingly.
This can mean involvement of steps such as partnering with technical institutions for designing courses, delivering training programmes (full-fledged courses, guest lectures) as part of the regular curriculum, conducting industrial training sessions, internships and live projects.
But more than anything else what is important to understand is that RE is an emerging sector, it cannot be treated as any old business and nothing about it runs as ‘business as usual’. This is why corporates need to get actively involved in skilling their workforce to ensure a steady supply of trained manpower.
Build a Digitally Enabled Business
Unlike other sectors, the adoption of digital tools benefits RE firms visibly. It enables better data collection and analysis to understand how assets are performing. It facilitates preventive maintenance and deployment of data to drive business decisions. However, what is crucial to note here is the difference between the buzzword ‘digitisation’ and the imperative to create a ‘digitally-enabled’ business. While digitisation can refer to pieces of technology being used in different parts of the business, a digitally-enabled business means having a common platform on which different parts of the business can work in a coordinated manner to deliver better business results. And this is precisely what RE businesses must try to master and leverage.
Cementing Social Commitment
By default, RE comes with obvious social benefits, i.e. the promise of power generation from clean sources. However, RE companies must take steps to go further and help communities in any possible way in the areas where their projects are located.
In summary, it is evident that the role of people in the sustainable development of the RE sector is crucial. They are the engine in the development and execution of energy policies, the catalysts of improved living standards and enablers of innovation, new technologies and know-how. It is clear that implementation of sustainable educational reforms, continuous training, the establishment of digitally enabled businesses and the laying down of a strong social commitment are some of the steps that can be taken to optimise people’s contributions.