Sumit Barat: Chief Sustainability Officer, Azure Power

Chief Sustainability Officer, Azure Power

Sumit Barat has been associated with Azure Power as chief sustainability officer for the past four years. Prior to that, he worked as an associate director at Arcadis. In the past, he has also worked as a senior manager at IL&FS’s environment division and at Winrock International India, an NGO. He is certified in business sustainability management from Cambridge University.

Barat believes that while traditionally, a renewable energy company is expected to be sustainable, its operations and management require conscious steps to ensure that sustainability is actually safeguarded. “We at Azure Power want to become a truly sustainable renewable generation company. Our operations and day-to-day functions are rapidly being oriented towards becoming more carbon neutral and water neutral. This is something that excites me,” he states.

According to Barat, the renewable energy industry in India has achieved a major landmark in terms of establishing cheaper prices than fossil fuel-based power. “With improvements in technologies, the cost competitiveness of renewable energy is increasing rapidly. We now need to shift gears to focus on the reliability aspect of renewables. Storage will play a great role in this regard. Hybrid models can also ensure the reliability of the grid. New avenues such as the production of green hydrogen are being explored and will open up greater opportunities for the development of energy storage in India,” he says.

In terms of his management style, Barat believes in collaboration. He says, “This is a new sector and we are still discovering new things as the sector grows. As a result, all stakeholders, including our peers, lenders and academicians, must work in collaboration to enhance this growth.”

In the future, Barat hopes to participate in developing a forum that allows stakeholders across the industry to collaborate and develop partnerships to achieve sustainability goals. He believes that with the rapid expansion of the renewable energy industry in India, it is important to be mindful about the corresponding sustainability challenges as the projects increase in scale. He says, “Stakeholders such as independent power producers, lending agencies and industry collaboration units such as FICCI can create greater collaboration in the CSR space.”

In his spare time, Barat enjoys reading fiction by authors such as Amish, Ayn Rand and Jeffery Archer. He also spends time cycling and notches up 10-15 km every day.