Gyan Bhadra Kumar started taking interest in the sector in 1989, with his involvement in NHPC Limited’s Chamera I hydroelectric project in Himachal Pradesh, one of the largest hydro projects in the country at the time. He claims that excitement regarding the humongous size, technology capacities and challenges in executing the project developed into a passion for the sector.
Of the 28 years of his career so far, he worked with NHPC for about 18 years in various capacities and was associated with projects such as Dulhasti, Chamera and Nathpa Jhakri. Subsequently, he worked with the Lanco Group as director, hydro, for about eight years. He took over as senior vice-president and head (hydro), JSW Energy, in early 2016. He is currently responsible for the operation of the Karcham Wangtoo and Baspa-II hydropower stations and the implementation of the Kutehr hydroelectric project in Himachal Pradesh.
Commenting on the state of the sector, Kumar says, “There are both opportunities and challenges: opportunities in terms of development prospects of renewables, and challenges in terms of the operational viability of existing coal- and gas-fired thermal capacity. Also, the low investor sentiment in the hydro and thermal segments as compared to renewables is a worrying factor. In the past five years, no major investment has happened in a greenfield project in the hydro space in spite of the huge long-term benefits that hydro brings.” In order to address these issues and revitalise the sector, Kumar suggests the rationalisation of royalty to state governments, introduction of a hydropower obligation, declaring hydropower as renewable energy irrespective of the plant size and facilitating long-term lending.
He describes his management style as participatory in nature. Kumar believes that extraordinary achievements cannot be accomplished unless everyone in the team contributes 100 percent, so he tries to keep his team members excited about their jobs.
Kumar is a civil engineer from the Delhi College of Engineering. He used to run quarter and half marathons in college, and enjoys going for a morning walk. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, he makes it a point to not sacrifice his professional or personal life at the cost of each other. In his spare time, he spends time with his son, Surya, and his family, reads a book or listens to music. In the future, he hopes to trek to the base of Mount Everest and also write about his travels.