10 minute read time.

For the next in our 'My Engineering Career' series we hear from EngX community member Aditya Vyas MIET, an engineer working in the Renewable Energy industry. Aditya shares why he became an engineer and the importance of continuous progress:

Who I am and what I do

 I work as an engineer.  The last nine years of my working life have been devoted to the renewable energy industry. More recently I have spent the last six months working as a Senior Renewable Energy Consultant in the area of hybrid power.

The role revolves around delivering Advisory and Owner's Engineering Services for standalone and co-located utility scale energy storage and on hybrid renewable power plants. The business work on projects with both in-front and behind-the-meter systems.

My primary responsibilities include overseeing project delivery, supporting business development, leading research and development (R&D) initiatives, and engaging with clients. In these roles, I draw upon my extensive knowledge and experience across the renewables sector. Some of my key deliverables involve providing techno-economic solutions for sizing complex hybrid systems (both electrons and molecules), conducting modelling and system-level studies for green molecules, and serving as a subject matter expert on battery energy storage system projects. This includes tasks such as drafting employer requirements, providing owner’s engineering support, and assisting with construction management projects.

Why engineering and how I got there

My decision to pursue engineering as a career was greatly influenced by my grandfather. Although he is now retired, his work as a power plant engineer made a profound impact on me. He worked extensively with turbo generators exceeding 500 MW capacity in thermal power plants, nuclear power generation facilities, and petrochemical refineries.

His work always sparked my curiosity, about how engineering can address and meet significant human needs. My grandfather was among a select few from my home  country chosen to gain advanced knowledge on Turbo Generators in the United States. This opportunity allowed him to bring valuable insights and expertise back to our country, further enhancing the local engineering landscape.

My academic journey began with a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering This was later followed by an M.Tech in Energy Systems and Technology, with a special focus on Solar Energy. That initial spark of curiosity about ‘how things work,’ together with a growing interest in engineering inspired by my grandfather, led me to choose Electrical Engineering.

As I delved deeper into the subject, I acquired a comprehensive understanding of electricity production and the challenges associated with conventional methods (such as coal-fired power plants). This knowledge further propelled me to explore the realm of renewable energy, with the aim of contributing to a greener and more sustainable method of electricity production.

The journey I embarked on was fraught with challenges, the most significant of which was my decision to diverge from the conventional path typically followed by electrical engineers. I chose to specialise in Renewable Energy, a field that was still emerging and had an uncertain job market. This decision often made me question my choice. It was the unwavering support of my family and invaluable guidance from industry veterans (who continue to be my mentors) which kept me motivated and encouraged me to excel in this field.

A pivotal moment in my career arrived after my B.Tech degree - when I was selected for a two-month training program in renewable energy by India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. This program, led by the country’s top renewable energy experts, served as a stepping stone in my career.

Meeting and solving problems

 The work I do as a Renewable Energy Engineer has a profound impact on society and the broader community. With almost 9 years of experience in various renewable energy fields -  such as Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system engineering, onshore wind energy, systems engineering, renewable hybrids, and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) - I contribute to the development of sustainable and clean energy solutions. These solutions not only help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, but also mitigate the effects of climate change, thereby creating a healthier environment for future generations.

Renewable energy engineers, like myself, play a crucial role in shaping a sustainable future. We design and implement systems that harness energy from renewable sources, contributing to energy security and reducing carbon emissions. Our work promotes economic growth by creating jobs in the renewable energy sector and help communities become energy independent.

I approach the ethical and social implications of my engineering projects with a deep sense of responsibility. I understand that sustainability is not just about environmental conservation, but also about ensuring social equity and economic viability. Therefore, I strive to develop solutions that are not only environmentally friendly but also socially equitable and economically viable. This holistic approach ensures that the benefits of renewable energy are accessible to all, thereby creating a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Keeping pace with it all

Keeping pace with the rapidly evolving renewable energy industry is crucial. I make it a point to attend conferences, engage with clients, and network with professionals on platforms such as the IET and LinkedIn. This helps me stay informed about the demands clients are making and the products the industry is developing to meet these demands. My previous experience with leading renewable energy product manufacturing firms provides me with valuable insights. It guides me in effectively integrating renewable technologies to cater to specific client requirements.

At the moment, I am beginning the initial phase toward achieving chartered status with the IET. Having already secured the MIET status from the same institution, this step is a testament to my experience and expertise. It serves to instil a sense of confidence in the industry I am part of and validates the contributions I make to it.

Continuous progress

My career trajectory has been a journey of discovery within the realm of renewable energy. I began as a Senior System Designer for Solar PV systems at a leading solar and wind product company, a role I held for eighteen months. Following that, I became Senior Engineer within the same company, focusing on the manufacture of Solar PV inverters for the next one and a half years. At this time, I realised that on its own, Solar PV can’t contribute enough to achieve the global decarbonisation goals.

This realisation prompted me to join a globally renowned firm - recognised for its diverse product portfolio.  These range from thermal generators and jet engines to healthcare equipment and renewable energy products like wind turbines and PV/BESS inverters. Here, I spent one and a half years as a Renewable Hybrid Systems Engineer, delving into the intricacies of renewable hybrids. This exploration led to my first patent - on reactive power management in renewable hybrid power systems.

Working on the development of the Renewable Hybrid Power Plant Controller made me appreciate the role of other renewable power generators in achieving carbon reduction goals. This idea prompted the beginning of my next eighteen-month long journey with onshore wind turbine systems, where I became Lead Systems Engineer in onshore wind turbines within the same firm.

What I learned from my work with solar PV and wind systems provided the impetus to move into the company’s Renewable Hybrid Division, where I became the Technology Product Manager. Staying in this post for two years meant I had the chance to contribute contributed to the development of Battery Energy Storage Systems data analytics product and SCADA systems.

After nearly eight years in the renewable energy sector, it felt natural to transition to the world of renewable consultancy. This move allowed me to better understand and meet client needs in designing renewable hybrid systems - leveraging the knowledge I developed in the product world.

 Nothing beats mindset

From my perspective, the key skills in this domain revolve around having an inquisitive and probing mindset. It’s important to challenge oneself when faced with unfamiliar areas. I believe the most effective way to use knowledge we have gained, is to learn, explore, share, and contribute simultaneously. Embracing out-of-the-box ideas and thought processes is equally essential.

Help from others

Mentors have played a pivotal role throughout my career. It all started with choosing my career path, which was inspired by my grandfather’s significant contributions to engineering. This interest was further nurtured by some of India’s top minds in renewable energy, who mentored me during the training I received, after my bachelor’s degree.

When I joined my first renewable energy company, the role of my mentors became even more crucial. They helped transform me from a shy, introverted young man at the start of his career into an exploratory thinker who constantly strives to solve critical challenges. They guided me in my interactions with clients, conducting professional training sessions, and helped me deliver key renewable projects.

My mentors are people I continue to hold in high regard, so much so they have become an integral part of my family. I always discuss any significant career changes or new explorations with them. I strive to implement the wisdom they have accumulated over their successful careers as renewable energy developers.

Looking to the horizon

The future of renewable energy engineering is incredibly promising, especially considering the emerging technologies and trends in the field. As we push towards a more sustainable future, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower are becoming increasingly important. The integration of these technologies into our energy systems is not just a trend, but a necessity.

From my career journey within renewable energy, I’ve watched the industry continuously evolving. The move from relying solely on solar PV systems to exploring renewable hybrids and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) is a testament to this evolution. The industry is constantly innovating to overcome challenges and improve efficiency.

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are also playing a significant role to enhance renewable energy systems. These technologies can help in predictive maintenance, improving energy production, and sharpening grid management.

The trend towards decentralising energy systems with microgrids and home energy systems is making communities and individuals active participants in the energy transition. The journey, though, is not without its challenges. Issues such as energy storage, grid integration of renewables, and the need for supportive policy frameworks are areas that need continuous focus.

The future of renewable energy engineering is bright and full of potential. It’s an exciting field right at the forefront of our transition towards a more sustainable, resilient energy future. As engineers in this field, we have the opportunity to make a significant impact on our world and contribute to a sustainable future. And that’s a responsibility we should all be excited about.

My advice and good luck

Beginning a career in engineering is a journey of continuous learning and exploration. Here are some pieces of advice from my own career journey in renewable energy engineering:

  • Be Curious and Enquiring: Engineering is all about understanding how things work and finding ways to make them work better. Always be curious and open to learning new things. This was a key aspect of my journey, from being intrigued by my grandfather’s work to exploring the domains of renewable energy.
  • Embrace Challenges: The path of engineering is filled with challenges and obstacles. Use these as opportunities to learn and grow. In my career, I faced challenges when I chose to specialise in Renewable Energy, a field that was still emerging. But overcoming these challenges was a rewarding experience.
  • Stay Updated: The field of engineering is constantly evolving with new technologies and trends. Make it a habit to keep pace with the latest developments. Participate in conferences, connect with professionals, and never stop learning.
  • Value Mentorship: Mentors can provide invaluable guidance and support in your career. In my journey, mentors played a crucial role, from inspiring me to choose engineering to guiding me in the renewable energy industry.
  • Think Holistically: Engineering solutions can have far-reaching impacts on society and the environment. Always consider the broader implications of your work. In my work in renewable energy, I strived to develop solutions that were not only technically sound but also environmentally friendly and socially equitable.
  • Be Patient and Persistent: Success in engineering doesn’t come overnight. It requires patience, persistence, and hard work. In my career, I spent years gaining experience in various domains before I could contribute effectively to the renewable energy industry.

Remember, engineering is not just a profession, it’s a way of thinking and problem solving. Be prepared for a journey of lifelong learning and innovation. Good luck!

Want to share your own Career journey with the EngX Community? Contact the Editorial team via community-online@ietengx.org and we'll be in touch!