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Latest developments in wind energy

August 27, 2021 9:30 pm

Latest developments in wind energy

Combating the challenging market conditions prevailing, the Indian wind power segment is looking for new areas of developments, especially offshore wind power in the coming years.

A new report jointly released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and MEC Intelligence (MEC+) finds that India is expected to add nearly 20.2 GW of new wind power capacity between 2021-2025. This would increase the country’s 39.2 GW wind market by nearly 50 percent and is a clear signal that the market is beginning to bounce back after a slow-down in recent years. 

Market scenario 

The wind power market had a mixed trend in the past few years. According to Ajay Devaraj, Secretary-General of the Indian Wind Power Association (IWPA), the average installation over the last five years has been 2.48 GW. “Wind power capacity installation in FY 2020-21 was just 1.5 GW. Between April and July 2021, a total of 341.800 MW has been installed. According to CEA figures released recently, in January 2021, 7.6 GW of projects from SECI Tranche I to SECI Tranche IX were still under construction. Out of them, 4.8 GW are expected to be completed in FY 2021-22 (this is based on the revised scheduled commissioning dates). Accordingly, we see an increasing trend in installations this year,” he adds. 

Speaking on the market scenario, Surya Prakash Gajjalla, CEO, Archimedes Green Energys, says, “Overall, the market seems bright, and the future looks promising for wind turbines compared to the previous year. The renewable energy market is growing in the country, and unquestionably, wind energy also has its share in this growth. This sector will have better market and growth opportunities in the coming years.”

Growth trends

Given that the wind energy has been around in India for over three decades now, there is no dearth when it comes to availability and choice of machinery and equipment, according to Ajay. An added advantage is that such machinery and equipment conform to IEGC standards and are made in India. Hence, the wind industry is not affected much by evolving international trade policies and foreign exchange fluctuations. Some of the positive trends are as follows:

  • State governments such as Madhya Pradesh have come out with policies that encourage investment in wind energy. Tamil Nadu is also likely to come up with a policy.
  • A policy regarding wind parks/wind-solar hybrid parks is likely to be announced by MNRE shortly.
  • A policy of offshore wind is also expected soon. Denmark has pledged to open a Centre of Excellence for offshore wind in Tamil Nadu.
  • With proposals in the anvil to allow Open Access sale of Green Energy, not just wind, but also all other forms RE, it augurs well for the industry as a whole.

Surya elaborates on the advantages of wind power, “Compared to solar, the equipment used in wind power has a longer life and duration of working. The equipment used can usually last to 50-60 years without any significant maintenance. So, with proper policy support and implementation, the wind power sector can thrive in the coming years.”

Roof-top wind turbines 

In line with the roof-top solar power, roof-top wind power is a growing concept in small scale wind power generation. Surya says, “Currently, there are not many players in India in the roof-top wind turbines market. Furthermore, the government policies on the small wind turbines and the roof-top wind turbines market are still ambiguous. If proper policy measures are implemented, there is a very high potential market for roof-top wind turbines as many high-rise buildings are coming up these days. Consequently, there can be wind turbines mounted on these high-rise buildings for wind power generation. Although these produce a comparatively lesser amount of power, they are environment-friendly, this can add to India’s green initiatives in power generation.”

He adds on the technology development, “We own the technology from a Korean company and, we also have a technology transfer agreement with the National Aeronautics Ltd, a Bangalore-based government organisation under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). When a government organisation is developing this technology, then it is a clear indication that they realised the potential of the small roof-top wind turbines in India.”

Speaking on the features and advantages of rooftop wind turbines, Surya adds, “The turbine that they have developed has a very low wind speed of 8 metres per second. I think it is the only wind turbine in the world that works at this speed. If you take any wind turbine available across the globe works at 12 metres per second. We can push the small wind turbines in a big way in the market, especially island locations like the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. A recent report published by the government and PwC also asserts that small wind turbines have a major potential in the locations of small islands.”

Challenges

In spite of the current growth trend in the market, wind power sector in India is facing challenges on various fronts. Some major bottlenecks highlighted by Ajay are:

  • The Centre going ahead with SECI auctions for wind without assessing preparedness of states. This has resulted in severe project overruns, and in some cases, has also led to the financial viability of the project itself being in doubt.
  • Delays in the execution of PPAs and PSAs
  • Payment delays by DISCOMs
  • Not honouring PPA terms
  • Curtailment for reasons not connected with grid safety

In order to overcome these challenges, the following measures are suggested by Ajay:

  • State-specific wind auctions
  • Realistic timelines for execution of projects. Currently the time line is 18 months. However, in some states it takes as much as 15 months just to obtain land clearances, a pre-requisite for financial closure.
  • Allow generators to exit agreements with DISCOMs and put in place clear cut norms and time bound permitting limits to enable them sell energy through Open Access or trade in the Energy Exchanges. (Note: This was written before the LPS draft was circulated by the Ministry of Power).
  •  Strict enforcement of PPAs
  • Either making SLDCs truly independent of DISCOM / State interference or hand over dispatch responsibility to POSOCO.
  • Facilitating the swapping of power between states.

Emerging opportunities

At a hub height of 120 m, the potential for onshore wind energy is 695 GW. The current installed capacity of 39.6 GW is a mere 5.7 percent of the potential. The 2022 target of 60 GW is 8.6 percent of the potential and the 2030 target of 140 GW around 20 percent. Obviously, a lot more is possible when one considers the potential available. 

In addition, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have potential for offshore wind too. Ajay says, “Unlike onshore wind which is at best available for about 150 days in a year, offshore wind is available for at least 300 days in a year. Unlike onshore wind, the CUF of offshore wind is also higher. The combination of higher number of days and higher CUF therefore provides offshore wind economies of both scale and scope.” 

According to Surya, this year, a significant number of companies are showing profits in their business, and most of them have already received many orders. There is a huge potential for the wind energy sector in India. “Along with that, many opportunities are opening up for hybrid systems, i.e., the solar and wind combinations. This hybrid system is a very viable solution as it ensures continuous power availability. A hybrid system is also a great option for customers that already installed solar power generators, and want to increase the capacity but don’t have the space to add any additional devices. In this case, wind energy systems can be integrated into the existing solar system. We are also working on microgrids as we combine solar, wind and existing DG sets or UPS in the house and everything can be combined to make a microgrid. Government should have exclusive initiatives for wind power and should not keep a common cost structure for solar and wind power,” he adds.

“Unlike onshore wind which is at best available for about 150 days in a year, offshore wind is available for at least 300 days in a year.” – Ajay Devaraj, Secretary-General of the Indian Wind Power Association (IWPA) 

“We can push the small wind turbines in a big way in the market, especially island locations like the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep.” – Surya Prakash Gajjalla, CEO, Archimedes Green Energys

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