The vast potential of the Indian solar market brought Kanika Khanna back to India from the US where she studied and worked for five years. In February 2012, she founded SunKalp Energy to provide data-propelled engineering, procurement and construction services along with after-sales support for rooftop solar power plants. She was instrumental in developing the company’s solar rooftop digital application, SunKalp Partner app. The app, which was launched in 2013, provides customers with facilities like instant quotes with detailed cash flows for rooftop projects ranging from 1 kW to 500 kW as well as break-even analysis for different scenarios of tariffs, debt, generation and other variables.
Khanna, who is chief technology officer and director of SunKalp Energy, notes that rooftop capacity plays a major role in the renewable energy development of any country. In India, she believes that rooftop solar technology will grow to about twice its current market size over the next few years. Khanna’s vision and passion stem from her strong educational background and work experience. A graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a specialisation in manufacturing engineering, she also studied production and industrial engineering at the Delhi College of Engineering. After completing her master’s, Khanna joined Cummins, where she worked as a quality engineer and subsequently as a system integration engineer, leading the manufacturing, product design and testing teams for various projects.
One of Khanna’s most memorable assignments was the deployment of a solar power plant on the rooftop of an open-air cafe. The project required extensive structural innovation and design engineering, and was executed by installing the plant on a transparent roof. This allowed natural light to come into the cafe while also helping avoid the production of greenhouse gases.
Khanna has a fairly inclusive management style, with the employees being involved in decision-making, thereby encouraging them to contribute directly to the company’s success. She feels it is important to identify the strengths of each employee and considers herself adept in placing the right talent in the right job.
One of the few women in the industry, Khanna does not let gender disparity come in the way of achieving company goals. She believes that vision, passion and experience are important ingredients for success. A keen trekker, she takes 15-day treks to the mountains once a year to unplug and unwind. Khanna’s parents are involved in the family business, while her brother is studying mechanical engineering from New York University.