Offshore wind energy could be launched in India within few years if positive results are obtained from a New and Renewable Energy ministry-backed survey. The survey being conducted by Chennai-based Centre for Wind Energy Technology (CWET) is analyzing the feasibility of setting up wind farms along Indian’s coastline. The survey is expected to be completed within 2-3 years.
C-WET has also invited technical inputs from world’s leading wind energy companies. The data from the companies would help C-WET to understand the soil conditions in the seabed and the different structural features required for offshore wind turbines.
The Indian peninsula is covered by water on three sides — the Arabian Sea in the west, the Indian Ocean in the south and Bay of Bengal in the east — and has a total coastline length of about 7,000 km. With increasing problems and limited energy density inland, offshore wind could power the next phase of growth in the Indian wind energy sector.
There is no scientifica data available for the estimation for India’s offshore wind energy resources. Even the official data on inland wind energy resources gravely underestimates its true potential. The official data collected by government agencies about 30-40 years ago measured the wind density at a mast height of 65 m whereas today, all the leading companies offer wind turbines with hub heights exceeding 80 m.
Therefore, C-WET must use state-of-the-art technologies to ascertain the true potential of India’s offshore wind energy resources. The consultation with the current leading suppliers of offshore wind turbines is a positive step in that aspect.
Wind energy is the leading renewable energy technology in India’s clean energy basket, contributing almost 70 percent of the total installed capacity. It is well established and project developers have little trouble convincing banks to grant loans or distribution companies to buy power from the wind farms. However, there are still some problems which can slow down the growth of wind energy sector in India.
With a population of 1.2 billion, land is always a problem in India and wind farms need it in plenty. Last week, Asia’s leading wind energy company, Suzlon Energy, was evicted from a piece of land it had acquired for setting up a wind farm in the southern state of Kerala. Social and political issues related to land use have, in the recent past, dominated India’s industrial expansion. India Inc. has seen several battles over the land issue, be it the issue of agricultural land used for setting up Special Economic Zones for IT and manufacturing companies or the Tata Motors’ exit from West Bengal after the Nano car manufacturing facility turned into a political hot soup.
So with the rising energy demand and logistical issues involved, the move to the coastlines could not have come at a better time. India is home to the third largest wind energy company, Suzlon Energy. While it has no experience in the offshore sector, its European subsidiary RePower has significant expertise in the same.
The potential of wind energy is tremendous in India. A study conducted by the Global Wind Energy Council and the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association found that wind energy could provide a fourth of India total electricity demand by 2030. Since the cost of offshore wind farms is far more expensive than inland wind farms the government would need to unveil a special program, similar to the National Solar Mission, to further promote wind energy in the country.
Image: m.prinle/ Flickr (CC)
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.
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