M. M. Madan, CEO, Hydro & Solar

M. M. Madan, CEO, Hydro & Solar

Hydropower has an important role in achieving the 7thSDG. Properly planned and implemented hydropower plant is an affordable, reliable, sustainable so...

Hydropower has an important role in achieving the 7thSDG. Properly planned and implemented hydropower plant is an affordable, reliable, sustainable source of affordable and clean energy. It can help communities, nations, and regions to acquire a reliable supply of electricity, supporting economic and social development throughout the world.

Hydro& Solar: for Sustainability Achievement

M. Madan

[ CEO (Hydro & Renewables Business), Jindal Power Ltd / Former Executive Director, NHPC Ltd ]


Modern society depends on reliable and affordable energy services to function smoothly and to develop equitably. A well-established energy system supports all sectors from medicine and education to agriculture, infrastructure, communications, and high-technology. Intensive development patterns have historically relied on inexpensive and energy-dense fossil fuels, which also happen to be the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. However, new, clean technologies are available that can reorient development along a more sustainable trajectory.

Business can accelerate the transition to an affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy system by investing in renewable energy resources, prioritizing energy efficient practices, and adopting clean energy technologies and infrastructure. Also, with investment in R&D, businesses can innovate and pioneer new technologies that change the status quo of the global energy system, becoming the center of climate change solutions.

Hydropower and Solar power have active roles to play in tandem to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” as envisaged at Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations.


The United Nations General Assembly has officially adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. The 17 SDGs aim to establish a common framework for the policy and development agenda across the 193 UN member states, looking toward the year 2030.They have replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The SDGs are born out of what is arguably the most inclusive process in the history of the United Nations, reflecting substantial input from all sectors of society and all parts of the world .Through the UN Global Compact alone, more than 1,500 companies provided input and guidance.

The Goals are universally applicable in developing and developed countries alike. Governments are expected to translate them into national action plans, policies, and initiatives, reflecting the different realities and capacities their countries possess.

While they primarily target governments, the SDGs are designed to rally a wide range of organizations and shape priorities and aspirations for sustainable development efforts around a common framework. Most importantly, the SDGs recognize the key role the business can and must play in achieving them.

The 7thSDG is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all”.

17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nation

Role of Hydropower to Help Achieving the 7th SDG

Hydropower has an important role in achieving the 7thSDG. Properly planned and implemented hydropower plant is an affordable, reliable, sustainable source of affordable and clean energy. It can help communities, nations, and regions to acquire a reliable supply of electricity, supporting economic and social development throughout the world.

Hydropower supplies approximately 16 per cent of electricity worldwide, and there is the scope for it to play more significant role in the energy sector. Globally, there is an additional 10,000 TWh per year of undeveloped hydropower potential, which could bring modern energy services to millions of people.

And, if properly planned, the hydropower potential can also support the further contribution of other clean energy technologies. With 1.3 billion people still lacking access to reliable and modern energy services, the increased role of hydropower will be crucial in  achievingthe seventh SDG.

Hydropower projects can render multiple services – including water supply, irrigation, climate mitigation, firm energy, energy storage and other ancillary services – therefore, hydropower can contribute to other SDGs as well, including those for water (6thSDG ), resilient infrastructure (9thSDG ), and climate change ( 13thSDG ).

Now that the SDGs have been formally adopted, the real challenge lies in their implementation. Governments, relying heavily on the private sector, will need to consider the support needed to ensure successful outcomes. The NGO community will encourage action and monitor progress.

With the global community now focused on the new SDGs, there is an opportunity to address policy, capacity building, market and financing constraints to further promote hydropower and other renewables that will help to achieve SDG 7.

In particular, the financing required to achieve SDG 7 throughout the developing world is estimated at over USD 300 billion annually. This figure does not include the investment required to transition established energy infrastructure in developed countries to cleaner sources.

Both the public and private sectors will need to be involved to achieve a meaningful outcome. Supportive policy environments will be necessary for success, even with sufficient financial investment.

For the hydropower sector, access to incentive schemes such as feed-in tariffs (FITs), green bonds, and emissions trading schemes, as well as appropriate market pricing for all hydropower services will be critical for low income countries to invest in developing their hydropower resources.

Sustainable Development of Hydropower

For sustainable development of a project, it needs to be implemented with synergy and trade-off amongst environmental, social, technical,& economic values. This balance is achieved and ensured in a transparent and accountable manner, taking advantage of expanding knowledge, multiple perspectives, and new ideas and technologies.

Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol of International Hydropower Association for management of sustainability issues can help in achieving sustainable goals of the hydropower project.

Hydropower is the only large power source which has got merits of delivering 24X7 generation reliability like fossil fuel based power plant as well as ensuring benefits of renewable power like no emission of greenhouse gases and no depletion of natural resources. Promotion and development of hydropower is the need of the hour to curb carbon emission envisaged in the COP21, Paris.

Hydropower accounts for about 70% of the renewable energy generation in the world.

Hydropower development scenario in India

Out of 314 GW installed capacity in India from all type of sources as on 31st December 2016, hydropower contributes 43,139 MW which is 13.73% of the total installed capacity. Only 30% of India’s total hydropower potential of 1,45,320 MW has been harnessed so far. During 12th Plan up to 31st Dec 2016 (i.e. from 1st April 2012 to 31st December 2016), hydropower capacity addition in India is 4,140 MW.

Pumped-storage Hydropower Projects

Pumped-storage Hydropower Projectis a type of hydropower scheme used for load balancing in the grid system. The Pumped-storage Hydropower Scheme consists of two water reservoirs – one at higher elevation above the power-house and another at lower elevation downstream of the powerhouse in tail pool. The water iscirculated between these two reservoirs. The water is lifted from the lower reservoir to upperreservoir during off-peak hours or when demand is low, using the same turbines in electric pumping mode when low cost surplus electricity is available in the grid. During the period of peak demand when the electricity tariff is high, the stored water of upper reservoir is released through same hydropower turbineskeeping them in generation mode to produce electricity and the released water is stored in the lower reservoir eventually to be pumped to higher elevation reservoir during off-peak hours. Although the losses of the pumping process makes the plant a net consumer of energy overall, the system increases revenue by selling electricity during theperiod of peak demand, when power prices are highest. Pumped-storage hydropower scheme makes use ofcheap poweravailable from any source or from intermittent sources such as solar& wind tolift the water and saves it in the form of stored water in the higher reservoir for generating electricity during peak demand hour. The reservoirs of the pumped storage plant may be small as compared to conventional hydropowerreservoirs of similar power capacity.

Pumped-Storage Hydropower Development Scenario in India

Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has identified 93,920 MW of pumped-storage hydropower potential across the country. Out of which, only 9 schemes totaling installed capacity of 4785.6 MW have been developed so far. 2 schemes – Tehri St-II (400 MW), Uttarakhand and Koyna Left Bank (80 MW), Maharashtra – are under construction.

Pump Storage Hydropower Potential Indentified by CEA : 93,920 MW


Region Potential (MW)
Northern 13,065
Western 38,220
Southern 16,650
Eastern 9,085
North Eastern 16,900
Total              93,920

 Recent Renewable Thrust in India

Govt of India has set ambitious target to develop 175 GW of renewable energy capacity comprising of 100 GW of Solar, 60 GW of Wind, 10 GW of Biomass Energy and 5 GW of Small Hydropower. Govt of India has planned for increasing non-fossil fuel in the electricity generation up to 40% by 2030. This was announced in India’s “National Determined Contribution” submitted to the UN Frame Work Convention of Climate Change in October 2015. The focus of Govt of India is concentrated now on renewable energy capacity addition.

In line with its announced targets, policy frame-work has also been structured accordingly in achieving it and consequently, the past few years have witnessed unprecedented growth in the renewable energy sector in India.

The sector has come a long way in terms of its share in the total installed capacity. As on 31st December 2016, India’s total installed capacity was 314 GW, of which renewable energy projects represented about 16% at 50 GW of capacity. Five years ago as on 31st March 2012, the installed renewable energy capacity stood at a modest 25 GW, representing 12.5% share in the total installed capacity of 200 GW.

A number of initiatives have contributed to this growth. The government policy initiative has been supportive and more recently, a wider set of measures including incentives, infrastructure support and investment promotions have been embarked upon that will help in accelerating renewable energy development. Significant among these are the launch of UjwalDiscom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) to help the financially stressed discoms improve their finances and thereby facilitate smooth offtake of renewable energy; the creation of the solar park to bring down the land and infrastructure cost of solar energy further and address the larger issues related to transmission infrastructure; and the implementation of green energy corridor project to augment transmission infrastructure for renewable projects. The regulatory support provided to renewable sources in terms of priority dispatch – with all renewable energy plants considered by government as must-run facilities – is also a big positive. Entry tax and VAT exception by many states have also helped in reducing the solar plant cost. Technology development, larger-scale projects and the learning effect have further enabled the use of efficient designs and pushed down costs.

All these factors have made renewables, particularly solar and wind power projects,an attractive option for investors, both domestic as well as international.

 Rise in Grid-Connected Renewable Energy Installed Capacity in India (MW)

 Renewable Energy Progress in 2016-17

The renewable energy sector in India registered impressive growth in 2016-17. The country has added 4,341 MW of grid-connected renewable energy capacity during April to December 2016. Capacity Addition during this period for Solar was 2,150 MW making cumulative solar installed capacity 9,013 MW and for wind the capacity addition was 1,923 MW taking total wind installed capacity to 28,700 MW. A key reason for this was the rush among developers to commission projects before key financial incentives (accelerated depreciation) expire or are reduced starting April 1, 2017.

Solar has occupied the Center Stage

  • One of the key factors contributing to the growth in solar power was the favourable project economics. Over the years, the cost of generating electricity from solar has fallen steadily – from about 18 per kWh in 2008, it has now come to as low as first year tariff of Rs. 2.97 per kWh in February 2017 for a 750 MW project at Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Park, Madhya Pradesh (of course the rate has many freebees). The tariff is much lower than that of electricity generated from an imported coal-based power plant which is Rs. 5 per kWh. At this level, solar looks to be cheaper than hydro and nuclear power besides freebees there is aSteep drop in module cost. (Solar module prices have fallen by 26% as compared to the last year. Module cost contributes 65%-70% of the capex of Solar PV project.)

 Recent tariff based competitive bidding of Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Project (750 MW)

Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Ltd, a joint venture of Solar Energy Corp. of India Ltd (SECI) and Madhya Pradesh UrjaVikas Nigam Ltd (MPUVNL), invited bids for Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Project (750 MW). The Reverse E-auction was held on 9 – 10 February, 2017. The bid winning tariff quoted by the successful bidders was as follows:

Sl. No Unit Capacity Winner First Year Tariff Quoted Remark
1 Unit-I 250 MW Mahindra Renewables Rs. 2.979 The tariff has an escalation of 5 paise per year  for 15 years, resulting in a levelized tariff of INR 3.29/kWh  for 25 years
2 Unit-II 250 MW Acme Solar Rs. 2.970
3 Unit-III 250 MW Solenergy Rs. 2.974

The previous lowest solar tariff in India was Rs. 4.34 quoted by Finland-based energy firm FortumFinnsurya Energy for 70-MW solar project at NTPC’s Bhadla Solar Park, Jodhpur, Rajasthan in January 2016.

The fall in solar tariff in the recent bidding is also due to the following attributes:

  • The project developers would benefit from unconditional state government off-take payment guarantee and deemed generation compensation for grid unavailability significantly improving their risk profile particularly in comparison to other state government tendered projects. The overall risk profile for Rewa tender is amongst the best in India.


  • 25% of the power output will be sold to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) using inter-state open access transmission. DMRC will assume all open-access related risk and costs expected to be about INR 0.50. DMRC will provide a demand forecast for the day ahead….Since, transmission and open access related issues are addressed; This Solar Power project could attract such low tariff.


  • Because of its large size and ready solar park infrastructure availability, Rewa solar projectwas an attractive investment opportunity.


  • With the central government waiving off inter-state transmission charges for solar power, states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, that have high irradiation and plentiful waste land are likely to attract new investments.


  • VAT & entry tax are exempted for solar power project in Madhya Pradesh.

Plunging Solar PV Cost & Tariff

Benchmark capital cost of Solar PV projects for FY 2016-17 as determined by CERC  is Rs. 530.02 Lakh / MW which is 12.50% less than FY 2015-16 bench mark cost of Rs. 605.85 Lakh / MW. The capital cost is expected to fall further considering reduction in price of solar module in international market. The accelerated depreciation @ 80% is available if the plant is commissioned during 2016-17. From 2017-18, the accelerated depreciation would be @ 30%.

Capital Cost Norm per MW for Solar PV Projects for FY 2016-17 determined by CERC

Sl. No Particulars Capital Cost norm proposed for FY 2016-17 (Rs. Lakhs/MW), for Solar PV projects % of Total Cost
1 PV Modules (@  USD 0.48/W with exchange rate of 66.59 INR/ USD + degradation cost of Rs 8.77 lakhs/MW) 328.39 61.96%
2 Land Cost 25 4.7%
3 Civil and General Works 35 6.6%
4 Mounting Structures (@ Rs. 70,000/ton for finished structure of 50 tons / MW) 35 6.6%
5 Power Conditioning Unit 35 6.6%
6 Evacuation Cost up to Interconnection Point (Cables and Transformers) 44 8.3%
7 Preliminary and Pre-Operative Expenses including IDC and Contingency 27.63 5.21%
Total Capital Cost / MW Rs 530.02 Lakh 100%

Thelevellised tariff for 25 years without accelerated depreciation corresponding to above capex is determined to be Rs. 5.68 / kWh. The levellised accelerated depreciation benefit would be Rs. 0.59 / KWh (if the project commissioned by 31st March 2017).

Considering fall in module cost in recent times by 25% to the above cost, the capex / MW would be around Rs. 450 Lakh / MW which is about 85 % of the total cost determined by CERC.  Therefore, the levellised tariff without accelerated depreciation with reduced capex would be around Rs. 4.83 and levellised tariff with accelerated depreciation benefit would be around Rs. 4.33 (if the project commissioned by 31st March 2017).

However, according to a recent study, India’s solar sector could see tariff rise by nearly 10% if current tax exemptions were curtailed in the roll-out of the GST. The study envisages that GST could possibly increase capital cost of a solar project by Rs 45 Lakh / MW if current tax exemptions were curtailed, setting back the sector in terms of cost competitiveness by about 18 months.The study says, “Multiple GST rates and their uncertain applicability to different equipment and services for solar projects is a growing concern from solar project developers and investors”.

Trend of Solar Tariff in India: Lowest Bid (Rs. / kWh)

 Environmental Concerns

Disposal of solar panels & Battery Banks

Once the Solar Panels becomes non-functional, after completing its useful lifespan, the disposal would require substantial space if it is not re-cycled. The health hazard associated with toxic waste of solar panel will also become a cause of grave concern. So far no guidelines have been issued.

In all above bids there is no provision of storage, and if battery banksare used to store power generated by solar plants, there will be considerable environmental &health risks arising out of disposal of dead batteries, since the batteries contain harmful materials such as acid, lithium and heavy metals (e.g. cadmium, cobalt, iron, lead, nickel and zinc).

However, the situation may change with the research in upgradation of battery technologies (Hydronium-ion Battery), technological advances &recycling innovations. Newstandards and environmental regulations will have to be formulated.

 Challenges in Power Sales

The Electricity Act 2003 opened up the generation segment for private players, leading to sizable capacity addition and improved availability of power. The old vertically integrated state electricity boards have been replaced by corporatized unbundled entities for generation, transmission, and distributions. However, the poor financial health of the Discoms continues to adversely affect power generation. The Discoms are reluctant to buy power since they are incurring losses. If the issues of high AT&C losses and tariff that do not cover costs are resolved, Discoms will continue to limp along. AT & C losses still remain at about 22% and the gap between the cost of supply and average tariff still remains at about Rs. 1.25 per KWh. A large numbers of projects are without long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and there are very low rates in the merchant markets. Many states are surplus in power, more specifically in Base Load power. Currently, neither transmission infrastructure nor institutional mechanisms are adequate to divert surplus power to deficit regions on a commercially sustainable basis. India’s annual per capita electricity consumption at about 1,000 kWhis still low compared to other countries and many places including metro cities are facing long power cuts; and yet there is a near-surplus power supply situation in the country. This anomaly needs to be addressed by meeting the suppressed demand, which certainly exists in the system as large number of captive (diesel) generating sets is in operation. Although the data superficially shows that the Power is surplus in India but common man still suffers and pays a much higher price of power consumed and Discoms tries to purchase power at much cheaper rates. Why the common man should pay for their inefficiencies.

Various state Discoms have roped in UjwalDiscom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme of the central government to improve their financial conditions. A large number of people are skeptical about the eventual success of UDAY.

Open access was the cornerstone of the Electricity Act 2003, based on the belief that it would put competitive pressure on Discoms when their prime consumers start moving away. The success of open access, however, is at best, mixed. The states try every trick in the book to thwart open access, thus frustrating the very purpose of unbundling the electricity boards.

Remedies for distribution woes

  • Central/State Govts should bail out the debt ridden State Discoms and subsequently shut down or privatize them. Only profit making state Discom, if there is any, should be allowed to be in business. All loss making Discoms should be closed down and private distribution licensees should replace them.
  • The extant subsidies in the electricity tariff to the consumers, if there is any, should be in the form of Direct Benefit Transfer by the state government to the bank account of the consumer. The Discom should not bear the brunt of subsidy politics.
  • Open access power sales should be encouraged by providing incentives.
  • The Free Power Business should be stopped.

Actual Power Supply Position in India during 2015-16

The energy requirement in India during 2015-16 was 11,14,408 MU while availability was 10,90,851 MU resulting in 2.1% shortage. The peak demand was 1,53,366 MW  and peak met was 1,48,463 MW having a deficit of 3.2%.

Power Supply Position in India during 2015-16

Energy (MU) Peak (MW)
Requirement 11,14,408 1,53,366
Availability 10,90,851 1,48,463
Shortage -23, 557 -4,903
(%) -2.1% -3.2%

 Region-wise Actual Power Supply Position in India during 2015-16



Energy Peak
Requirement Availability Surplus                         / Deficit (-) Demand Met Surplus                         / Deficit (-)
Northern 3,40,475 3,24,009 -16,466 -4.8 54,474 50,622 -3,852 -7.0
Western 3,46,767 3,45,967 -800 -0.2 48,640 48,199 -441 -0.9
Southern 2,88,025 2,83,494 -4,531 -1.6 40,030 39,875 -155 -0.4
Eastern 1,24,653 1,23,646 -1,007 -0.8 18,169 18,056 -113 -0.6
North-Eastern 14,488 13,735 -753 -5.2 2,573 2,367 -206 -8.0

 Achieving Grid Stability by Complementary Development of Pumped-Storage Hydropower & Solar Power

With the advantages of pondage / storage facility and instantaneous start & stop options at any time during the day, unlike other form of renewable energy source e.g. Solar, hydropower is the most reliable and grid-supportive energy source. Pumped-Storage Hydropower Project is best suited to compensate the handicap of only day-time power generation capability of solar power plants. The excess power generated by the Solar power plant during day time can be used to pump the water from lower level reservoir of the pumped-storage plant to the higher level reservoir. The pump-storage plant, in turn, can use the water to generate electricity to supply electricity as per demand of the grid when Solar plant cannot generate power. Thus, pumped-storage project can act as battery bank of the solar plant ensuring balancing of the power grid. Dependability on only one type of power source can play havoc on grid system and it cannot ensure 24X7 quality power supply to cater the variable demand. Therefore, it is imperative to develop diverse portfolio of power sources particularly prioritizing those which complement each other e.g. solar and pumped-storage hydropower scheme. Development of Solar plant in tandem with pumped-storage hydropower scheme would go a long way in providing energy security to the country. It will also fulfill the environmental considerations.


Ensuring affordable, reliable, and sustainable power supply for all is the cornerstone for achieving the 17 Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.  Govt of India has set ambitious renewable energy capacity addition goals in consonance with the SDGs and COP21 emission reduction targets.

The success of the endeavors of  providing 24X7 uninterrupted and affordable power for all depends on elimination/minimization of distribution challenges by the way of unburdening Discoms of its liabilities of debts and subsidy schemes and also on optimization of balancing of grid  by way of incentivizing development of hydropower/ pumped storage projects along with solar projects.

Although it is portrayed that India is having surplus electricity but the fact remains that there are power cuts in the rural areas.

Solar power clubbed with wind power development should take place considering remote village’s necessity of providing power. These plants should be developed on standalone basis and not to be connected with grid. This will save the transmission charges and villages will get cheap and affordable power.

Once these plants are installed by State/ Central Govt., the responsibility of maintenance should lie with the village Panchayat so that they are not dependent on further Govt. subsidy.

In case some industries come up in the villages they should pay the price of electrical energy to the Panchayat for maintenance of these plants.

This will revolutionize the dream of 100% electrification of villages in the true sense.



  1. Tracy Lane, International Hydropower Association: Sustainable Development Goals: how does hydropower fit in? (Oct 2015)
  2. Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, International Hydropower Association (Nov 2010).
  3. CEA Website
  4. MNRE Website
  5. IHA Website
  6. ET Energy World., Wide power deficit discrepancy between NGO and Govt data in UP., 27th Feb 2017.

Brief Profile of M. M. Madan, CEO (Hydro & Renewables Business), Jindal Power Ltd

Mr. M. M. Madan is a B. Tech (Civil) and MBA. He is having 40 years of vast & rich experience in Hydropower sector from Concept to Commissioning. Mr. Madan is presently CEO (Hydro & Renewables) at Jindal Power Limited and is steering the Hydro & Renewable Business of Jindal Power Limited. Under his leadership, 5600 MW Hydro Electric Projects in Arunachal Pradesh are under different stages of development. Previously he has worked at private sector companies as Director (Hydro)-GVK Infra and CEO (Hydro) – LNJ Bhilwara Group and as Executive Director for Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) NHPC Ltd. He worked on some of the most challenging and biggest Hydropower projects of the country.

As recognition of his outstanding contribution in water resources sector, Mr. Madan has been awarded prestigious I.N. Sinha Award 2001-02 by Central Board of Irrigation and Power, India’s premier entity in water & power sector.  He is also the recipient of Prof. V. K. Kulkarni Award in 1987. He has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Engineers 2009 in the world by International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England. He has been conferred with Aqua Foundation’s Excellence Award 2016 under the category of Professional Excellence (Individual) for outstanding Contribution to ‘Sustainable Development of Hydropower for past 40 years at National & International Level’ and development of ‘5P System of Execution in Flowing Ground & Extremely Weak Rock Formations in Underground Works’.

Mr. Madan has published and presented more than 230 technical papers in national and international forums besides award winning books on Hydropower and Tunnelling in English as well as in Hindi language. He is Fellow of Institution of Engineers- (India), Institution of Values- (India) & Indian National Academy of Engineering. Mr. Madan is also member of many Technical Societies and Bodies; International Hydropower Association, Indian Hydropower Association, Indian Institute of Rock Mechanics & Tunnelling Technology, Indian Society of Rock Mechanics and Indian Tunnelling Association.

Mr. Madan is Chairman Hydro Sub Group (ASSOCHAM), Member Hydro Core Group (CII National Committee on Power) and President (Arunachal Pradesh Power Companies Association). He is empanelled in the Panel of Arbitrators of Institution of Engineers (I).

Email: mmmadan2007@gmail.com, mmmadan2001@yahoo.co.uk ,

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