India is set to take a definite step towards opening the offshore wind energy sector to the developers. After deliberations for several months, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) is set to launch the National Offshore Wind Energy Authority (NOWA) to proliferate deployment of offshore wind energy projects in the county.
The National Offshore Wind Energy Authority will be responsible for carrying out resource assessment along the country’s coastline and survey potential project sites in the Exclusive Economic Zones in the territorial waters.
India is the fifth largest wind energy market in the world, in terms of installed capacity, with over 19,500 MW capacity installed as of 30 June 2013, accounting for about 65% of the total installed renewable energy capacity in the country.
Scottish Development International had conducted offshore wind energy assessment in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and indicated that 1 GW wind energy projects could be installed off the coastal cities of Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari. The agency is believed to have estimated India’s offshore wind energy resources at 350 GW.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), Indian corporates like the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Tata Power have expressed interest in setting up offshore wind energy projects. Tata Power is believed to have submitted a formal request to set up a project off the coast of the western state of Gujarat. GWEC further reported that in June 2010 global giants like Areva, Siemens, and GE had announced plans to explore offshore wind energy opportunities in India.
Even though onshore wind energy is the most well-established renewable energy technology in India, offshore wind energy sector needs special attention to ensure sustainable growth. As noted by one of the members of India’s Planning Commission, the capital cost requirements for offshore projects is substantially higher than onshore projects. Offshore wind energy projects would require a promotional tariff higher than that offered for onshore wind energy projects. The highest preferential tariff offered for onshore wind energy projects is around $0.10 per kWh.
Another critical aspect related to offshore wind energy projects is security. As mentioned in an earlier article, the government has been talking to the Indian Coast Guard about this issue. There have been reports that the large wind farms pose security issues due to complications with radar imaging. India claims to have increased vigilance along its coastline since the 2008 Mumbai attacks and it surely doesn’t want to take a step backwards.
Transmission of energy is another challenge. The government is planning to set up a dedicated transmission corridor for renewable energy projects. Preparations for setting up this corridor have begin with the implementation of the Renewable Regulatory Fund (RRF). Solar and wind energy project developers are now required to forecast the energy they are going to supply to the grid with a set level of accuracy. The developers would have to pay a penalty if the energy supplied deviates beyond the set limit.
The establishment of a dedicated offshore wind energy authority could not have come at a better time. The government recently reintroduced a crucial incentive scheme for the wind energy sector. The Generation-based Incentive scheme had been one of the most attractive incentives for project developers in the wind energy sector. In its absence, India’s wind energy capacity addition fell to the lowest point in three years.
Image Credit: Middelgruden Offshore Wind Farm in Denmark. United Nations Photo | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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