Growth in India’s power transmission infrastructure seems to lag the pace at which wind energy capacity is being offered in tenders. This seems to be the case if one examines a recent report by India’s Central Electricity Authority that heads long-term power infrastructure planning in the country.
Nearly 11 months after the second national-level wind energy tender by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) presided over the first-ever meeting of the national transmission committee. The committee approved construction of power transmission infrastructure in two states — Gujarat and Tamil Nadu — to support wind energy projects allocated in SECI auctions.
The infrastructure is required for the 4,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity allocated in SECI auctions, and scheduled to be installed in Gujarat. Transmission infrastructure to support 900 megawatts of wind energy capacity, also auctioned through SECI and to be installed in Tamil Nadu, was also approved.
The meeting of this National Transmission Committee took place days after the fifth national-level SECI wind energy tender was quashed due to poor response from project developers. Of the 2 gigawatt capacity on offer, project developers offered to set up just 1.2 gigawatt capacity raising concerns over the lack of transmission infrastructure to carry power generated.
The decision to set up transformers and other infrastructure in Gujarat for the awarded wind energy projects was taken in June 2018. The entire project to support 4 gigawatts of wind energy projects would require an investment of Rs 356 crore ($50.8 million). The timeline of this project has not been announced yet.
Similarly, the decision to set up infrastructure in Tamil Nadu was taken in late April 2018. The investment required for this project would be Rs 37 crore ($5.3 million). Both these projects would support only around 5 gigawatts of capacity expected to be commissioned in a phased manner between October 2018 and April 2020. Additional infrastructure would be required to support capacities awarded in future wind energy auctions.
India successfully completed four national-level wind energy auctions, awarding just over 6 gigawatts of capacity. A fifth tender of 2 gigawatts of capacity was quashed, while the fate of the sixth tender, the largest, with 2.5 gigawatts of capacity remains uncertain.