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Published on July 26th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown


In Parts of India, Wind Energy Proving Cheaper than Coal

July 26th, 2012 by  

Due to the cost of rising coal prices and a decrease in the cost of wind power (which has dropped considerably in recent years), the cost of wind power in some parts of India has fallen below that of electricity from coal power plants (not even taking health or global warming externalities into account).

A wind farm in Maharashtra, India

The cost of wind power is primarily dependent on the average wind speed in the location where wind turbines are to be installed. It is also dependent on the cost of labour required to install and maintain the wind turbines. Another factor that affects the cost of wind farm electricity is the initial price to buy the turbines.

This cost improvement mentioned above is due to increased turbine efficiency in recent years, and the increasing viability of generating electricity at lower wind speeds, according to Greenko Group Plc.



“Today we’re able to supply energy below the cost of conventional power,” said Mahesh Kolli, president of Greenko, which is building wind projects with General Electric Co. in India. “That’s the key development for this year.”

According to Renewable Energy World, this wind energy cost reduction means that new wind farms in India using these improved turbines can survive and flourish without a state subsidy (or a price on CO2 and other pollutants).

Greenko started operating its first wind project in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra state this year, using 1.6-MW General Electric wind turbines, and “achieving efficiencies never before seen in India.” That wind farm reportedly achieves a 30% capacity factor*. New wind turbines can achieve a capacity factor of over 50%.

In India, 57% of their power plants’ power generation capacity is coal power plants, and 31% of it renewable power plants, including hydroelectric plants. Hopefully this tipping of the scales gets a lot more renewable energy on the grid soon.

Source: Renewable Energy World
Photo Credit: Jeet Ghosh

*A 30% capacity factor just means that the power generated by the wind farm averages out to 30% of its maximum power generation capacity.

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

  • kentbeuchert

    I doubt that the study (produced by wind businesses and wind orgs) 
    was anything other than a cost analysis based on cost of the wind equipment, versus lifespan expectations versus utilization rates. That 
    ignores the indirect costs that are attendant anytime an uncontrollable 
    and unreliable power source is allowed to enter the grid. For one, wind cannot allow for the elimination of any existing, controllable generation plants – wind is not always there or in the amounts required, which requires 
    continuation of those plants. At best, they realize a reduction in the cost 
    of fuel. All the other costs (maintenance, staffing, cost of facility and land, etc) remain more or less the same, even though they are producing less power. Adding an uncontrollable power source can therefore almost double
    the cost of power for that power supplied via wind inputs. India, the last I heard, was planning (along with China) an enormous number of new nuclear plants (currently the lowest cost provider of power – roughly 39% cheaper than coal in the US. China plans on having up to 600 new nuclear plants by 2030 and 1800 by the end of the century. Britain (one of the first to try wind power) has already approved , I believe, about two dozen nuclear plants. France will completely replace its existing nuclear fleet over the next 35 years, with half being gen 3 and half gen 4 (fast reactors).
    Fast reactors are inherently safe and can burn “nuclear wastes”, reducing them to low level, non-weaponizable products that return to background radiation levels in a hundred years or so. Nuclear wastes stored in the US 
    can provide all the electricity this country needs for the next 1000 years.
    I predict that in the future, the biggest business in wind turbines will be in tearing them down and restoring the local environment to its natural state, unblemished by any 10 story steel monstrosities. . 

    • You are talking about a pre-Fukushima state of events.

      After Fukushima, nuclear plans have changed significantly.

      Privately financed nuclear is a dodo. Nobody will finance it and nobody will insure it.

      China may be completely scrapping its nuclear plans (e.g.: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_23204.cfm) and has raised its solar expansion plans to 50GW by 2020.

  • Captivation

    People aren’t acknowledging how unpredictable and unstable our situation is.  For example, if the warm Arctic melt waters disrupt the Thermohaline circulation, then Wind might significantly increase as a substitute method of heat transfer. (The hot equatorial waters will want to share their heat with the cooler Arctic waters.)   A doubling of wind speed increases power by 8 fold.  So things could instantly change for the entire industry.

  • mohan

     That wind farm reportedly achieves a 30% capacity factor*. New wind turbines can achieve a capacity factor of over 50%. 50% PLANT LOAD FACTOR? Unheard of in the wind industry so far! Especially in India! The maximum that India has seen is around 37% that too in few locations of hilly areas in Karnataka. Even the 30% capacity factor in Maharashtra is ambitious, given the quality and class of wind there!

    • As the price of electricity can drop when the wind blows stiffly some people may be skimping on the size of generators in wind tubines as they figure they aren’t going to make money during periods of high winds, so they build a cheaper wind turines that produce less electricity overall but which are pretty good at generating electricity in low winds.  This pushes up capacity factor and this may be occuring in India, although I don’t actually know.

    • Thanks. Great note!

      We actually just posted on wind capacity factor regularly reaching 50%: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/07/27/wind-turbine-net-capacity-factor-50-the-new-normal/

  • Ceesabc

    I agree with you… I feel very nice After reading this information,such a great information should give new ideas and approach to the newer ideas. Likewise, we have certificate programs and courses in energy education, to enable students and professionals to add value to their credentials and to serve the society better.It is known as “College of Energy, Environment
    and Sustainability (CEES)”. CEES is an education initiative of Bridging Nations, US, a nonprofit, policy organization based in Washington
    D.C. CEES endeavors to bring in energy and environment education and create the energy leaders of tomorrow.

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