An engineer by education, Sudipta Kumar Mukherjee has over three decades of experience in the power sector. He is currently executive director of the thermal generation business at CESC Limited and is responsible for thermal capacity aggregating 2,300 MW. His operating portfolio has a unique mix of assets, which are under long-term power off-take arrangements with discoms along with market-focused untied capacity operating primarily through the merchant route.
According to Mukherjee, “The power generation business in India is going through a flux. With the capacity addition being dominated by renewables, primarily solar, the role of thermal generation is now critical for grid balancing. Today, thermal power is best suited to meet flexibility requirements and hence needs to be adequately protected to create a resilient power system capable of seamless integration of renewables.”
The sector, however, is fraught with dichotomies, he notes. “On the one side, we are focusing on reducing our carbon footprint, and on the other, we are still operating less efficient, aged thermal assets, and are backing down more efficient new-age assets that are environmentally compliant,” he says.
Mukherjee takes pride in his long association with CESC. “CESC has been the frontrunner in the power sector and, incidentally, has been among the first utilities to establish thermal generation in India to light up the city of Kolkata,” he remarks. Going ahead, the company is committed to power generation in an environmentally responsible manner, duly maintaining its assets at the highest level of efficiency and focusing on innovation to remain relevant.
Mukherjee recalls his most memorable assignment as the setting up of a 600 MW power plant in Haldia district of West Bengal. “It was a Herculean task to set up the project in a socio-politically challenging scenario, and mobilise huge investment,” he says. In a seemingly impossible project, fraught with instability in the region and other challenges, Mukherjee excelled in establishing a solid base for sustainable operations and providing a beacon of hope for thermal capacity development in the state.
A firm believer in human capital, Mukherjee’s management style hinges on collective decision-making and empowering his team. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading books on spirituality and contributing to social development. He is also a great nature enthusiast.