India is known for having a ton of solar energy potential, but a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) shows that it also has a ton of wind energy potential, much more than previously thought.
The study found that India has 20-30 times more onshore wind energy potential than the official Indian estimate. This is important, since the official estimate of 102 GW would only be able to provide India with up to 8% of its projected electricity demand by 2022 and 5% by 2032, and since wind is a super-cheap form of energy.
“The new Berkeley Lab study has found the total techno-economic wind potential to range from 2,006 GW for 80-meter hub heights (an indication of how high the wind turbine stands above the ground) to 3,121 GW for 120-meter hub heights,” an LBL news release states.
This new finding could have a strong effect on India’s renewable energy strategy. The country, as is well known, has a tremendous electricity shortage. As stated many times here on CleanTechnica, the good thing about that is that India (and other less-developed countries) can leapfrog outdated dirty energy technologies and jump right into clean energy, especially from the wind and sun. India has realized that, and it led the world in cleantech investment growth in 2011.
In my 2012 solar expectations post at the beginning of the year, I noted that India “has tremendous solar power goals…, solar is now cheaper than diesel there, and many are projecting that it will become a big solar player soon, perhaps in 2012.” But wind is exceedingly cheap as well, and this news opens up a whole new energy ball game.
“The main importance of this study, why it’s groundbreaking, is that wind is one of the most cost-effective and mature renewable energy sources commercially available in India, with an installed capacity of 15 GW and rising rapidly,” says Berkeley Lab scientist Amol Phadke, the lead author of the report.
“The cost of wind power is now comparable to that from imported coal and natural gas-based plants, and wind can play a significant role in cost effectively addressing energy security and environmental concerns.”
Jayant Sathaye, who leads the International Energy Studies Group at Berkeley Lab, state: “The key agency in charge, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Berkeley Lab to collaborate on several issues related to potential estimates and wind energy integration.”
Why the reassessment of India wind energy potential?
Due to recently updated wind energy potential assessments for the U.S. and China, which saw a 50% and a 10-fold increase in wind energy potential in those nations, respectively, LBL thought it would be a good idea to use the new parameters and assumptions to evaluate India’s wind potential. But I don’t think anyone was expecting such a large jump.
“Improved wind technology, including higher efficiency and hub heights, accounted for much of the increase along with more advanced mapping techniques,” LBL states.
For more information on the study, check out the LBL news release or its “Reassessing Wind Potential Estimates for India: Economic and Policy Implications” report.
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