Thursday, April 07, 2005

Windy Trends For Power In India

Vestas RRB is an Indo-Danish venture in the wind energy sector. This week they inaugurated a new facility in Chennai, to manufacture control panels for wind electric generators. The annual output of this plant would be enough to meet a demand for generating 200 MW.

India, it is stated, has a wind energy potential of 45 GW. At an installed capacity of 3 GW we have hardly harnessed 7% of the potential. The reason is pretty straightforward - the lack of a National Policy. If Germany today is by far the leader in wind energy, it is because of a favorable national policy that takes incentives away from traditional fossil fuels and into renewables. The need becomes even more pronounced when we consider that for all the technological achievements, electricity from wind energy is still slightly more expensive than thermal power based electricity. This though is bound to change soon, as Europe is researching like crazy on wind, to meet EU targets of 12% 6% renewables in all national grids by 2010. In any case, a national mission would be vital to the wind energy mission achieving critical mass.

Meanwhile, giants like ONGC, HPCL and Reliance, are taking baby steps into the wind energy sector. While HPCL and ONGC are looking at generating between 100 and 150 MW each (the latter for captive consumption), Reliance Energy has already commissioned an 8.37 MW wind farm project in Karnataka, and is looking for more.

The current growth projections for wind power in India are 30% annually, or about 1,000 MW or 1GW every year. That is not bad. But just imagine what a dedicated national mission can do for that.