M. Prasanna Kumar, managing director, Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL), has over 30 years of experience in the generation sector across fuel management, operations and maintenance, coal handling and power plant erection. Prior to joining GSECL, he was working with NTPC Limited as an executive director, handling corporate fuel management.
“The Gujarat power sector is characterised by a higher share (around 32 per cent) of renewable generation capacity,” he remarks. “Given the state government’s mandated renewable energy capacity addition, GSECL has undertaken massive solar PV capacity addition on wasteland to supply cheaper power to the agricultural sector during the daytime. The lowest ever solar tariff of Rs 1.96 per kWh was also achieved for GSECL’s Babarzar solar PV project.” He believes that over the next 15-20 years, businesses would be required to run in hybrid mode, based on combined or pooled costs (thermal and renewables), where the blended cost proportion will provide a reasonable solution considering demand scalability, availability and price. Prasanna Kumar expects significant changes in the generation segment, driven by the influx of renewable energy into the grid. He adds that in future, the performance of the sector will depend on how well renewables are integrated with the grid. “Energy storage is likely to play a crucial role in the next few years,” he adds. “Energy storage will help meet ancillary requirements as well as minimise deviations.”
On the outlook for coal-based power, Prasanna Kumar says that this segment will continue to play an important role in the future in spite of the rapid growth in renewable power. Despite renewables achieving cost parity with thermal power, balancing power will be provided by coal. “Given the highly variable output of renewable energy (particularly wind) plants, coal will have to be utilised for addressing demand shortages,” he adds.
Prasanna Kumar is a fellow of the Institute of Engineers and has presented and published a number of technical and managerial papers at national and international conferences and in various journals. He is also chairman, Western Region Power Committee, Mumbai, for 2021-22. Prasanna Kumar is a mechanical engineering graduate from Nagarjuna University and also holds an MBA in operations management, marketing management, financial management and human resources management.