From a design engineer to the CEO of Hinduja Renewables, Kapil Maheshwari has come a long way in the renewable energy space. In his 16-year-long career, he has handled multiple mergers and acquisitions, and technology changes. With domain knowledge of the solar and energy storage sectors, he has designed and implemented large-scale renewable energy plants across the US, Germany and India.
Achieving self-sufficiency gives him a sense of accomplishment. “I remember the company’s first acquisition, which was done with no adviser on our side, and I was able to manage legal issues, finance and tax, commercial and technical due diligence, transaction documents, and negotiations on my own,” he says.
Undeterred by the challenges brought on by Covid-19, he says, “Most of our plants have PPAs with creditworthy consumers. Plant-level O&M has continued despite some difficulty. The construction of new plants had been slightly delayed due to manpower shortage and travel restrictions. These issues have been resolved now.” Although rooftop projects based on the RESCO model and third-party open access projects faced challenges in states where banking is not allowed, the power demand is now back on track as clients have started production.
Maheshwari believes that most solar plants are able to receive timely payments because of their must-run status. “Digitalisation will drive the sector going forward. However, policy-level uncertainty remains a matter of concern. More clarity is needed on basic customs duty on solar cells and modules, allocation and direct benefit transfers to generators with regard to the Rs 900 billion loan package for discoms, and amendments to the Electricity Act,” he says.
During the lockdown, Maheshwari got a chance to speak with every employee involved in O&M through videoconferencing platforms. In these difficult times, his advice to other senior executives is to trust their colleagues and teammates. Having a diverse work experience helps Maheshwari understand the pain points of all his team members. “As I have worked in design, project management, sales and business development prior to becoming CEO, I am able to understand the difficulties of my team faces very well. I always encourage my team to approach me with all kinds of problems, but bring potential solutions as well,” he says.
Maheshwari has a master’s degree in electrical engineering (power systems and electronics) from IIT Bombay, and an executive MBA in general management from IIM Bangalore.