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Propelling India with Wind Energy
Kishor Jagirdar | November 19, 2011 at 12:09 amby
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The world owes a lot to aerospace engineer Akira Obata of Nippon Bunri University, Oita, Japan. Obata studied the stable flight of a dragon fly, on which he based a design of micro wind turbines capable of withstanding gale-force winds.
Micro wind turbines are necessitated to function well in light winds but avoid spinning too fast when a storm hits else their generator is overwhelmed. That’s why large turbines make use of specially designed blades that stall at high speeds or computerised systems that adjust the angle of the blade according to the wind speed, as picked up by sensors. The technology is good but far too expensive for micro-scale turbines producing less electricity to offset the cost. And that’s what makes findings likes Obata’s so valuable.
Obata and his colleagues have developed a low-cost model of a micro wind turbine, suitable to recharge mobile phones or LED lights, with paper blades modelled on the dragonfly’s wing. In tests, the flexible blades were able to change shape instead of spinning faster when wind speeds over the blades rose from 24 to 145 kilometres per hour.
Such inventions hold much value for India, a nation that first embraced wind power in the 1990s. Today, the country boasts the fifth largest wind power capacity in the world.
Although the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) estimates India’s current wind power potential at 48.5 GW and the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) has revised its projection upwards to 49.1 GW, the World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE) puts the possibility higher, in the range of 65 to 100 GW. But the installed capacity lags way behind these predictions. Last year, India installed 2139 MW of new capacity, making the country’s wind power sector the third fastest (behind China and the USA) growing in the world for 2010 and taking its total capacity up to 13.1 GW.
As a result, 10.9% of the country’s energy mix in terms of installed capacity and 4.13% of the electricity generation mix now comes from renewable energy. Wind power accounts for a healthy 70% of the installed capacity of renewable energy.
Within the country, Tamil Nadu boasts of 40% of the installed capacity while the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh trail behind. Some of the larger projects in these states are the Vankusawade Wind Park in Maharashtra of Suzlon Energy Ltd. with an installed capacity of 259 MW, Shalivahana Wind in Tamil Nadu of the Shalivahana Group (capacity 20.4 MW), Ramakkalmedu wind farm in Kerala operated by Subhash Ltd. (capacity 25 MW), Puthlur RCI wind farm in Andhra Pradesh operated by Wescare (India) Ltd. (capacity 20 MW), Lamda Danida wind farm operated by Danida India Ltd. in Gujarat (capacity 15 MW), Kayathar wind farm in Tamil Nadu operated by Subhash Ltd. (capacity 30 MW), wind farm of Jogmatti BSES in Karnataka operated by BSES Ltd. (14 MW), and Jamgudrani MP Wind Farm in Madhya Pradesh by MP Windfarms Ltd. (14 MW).
Development in the wind power sector has spurred the domestic manufacturing of associated equipment, allowing homegrown companies like Suzlon to emerge as a global leader and a major force to reckon with in the Indian wind power arena, catering to more than half of the domestic demand. Vestas, Enercon, RRB Energy and GE are other companies with healthy shares in their kitty. Seventeen companies in all manufacture wind turbines in India, with a production capacity of 7.5 GW per year. New market entrants such as Gamesa, Siemens, and WinWinD are expected to spur production to 17 GW or more by 2013, according to WISE.
The Indian wind sector has grown at about 30% since the Electricity Act 2003 came into being and more significantly, at 68% during the slowdown. Government policy applicable to the sector is pro foreign and local investors, and includes several incentives and a tax holiday on earnings for ten years. In December 2009, the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy also approved a generation-based incentive (GBI) scheme for wind power projects, under which eligible projects will receive an incentive tariff of Rs 0.50/kWh (US$ 1.1 cents) for a (maximum) period of ten years. This scheme is currently valid for wind farms installed before the close of the ongoing financial year.
In the current fiscal, it remains to be seen how the governments’ new Direct Tax Code affects the sector since it effectively removes the accelerated depreciation clause that was earlier thought to be boosting wind power development. Also, states need to improve the power evacuation system for wind electricity by better integration of such capacities with the grid. In these and in technology respects, India could learn from the Japanese wind energy industry.
The Japanese government policy is very supportive of its wind power industry, in part, thanks to the Kyoto Protocol objectives. With the country needing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% in the period from 2008 to 2012, the government is targeting 16.0 TWh wind power by 2014.
In recent years, Japan has made significant progress in wind power production, as a result of the government laying down requirements for electricity companies to source an increasing percentage of their supply from renewable sources, and offering market incentives by way of price paid for the output from renewable plant, subsidies such as the Field Test and New Energy Business Support Programmes, and capital grants. Japan’s installed capacity has soared from 136 MW in 2000 to 2,304 MW last year. Four homegrown wind turbine manufactures, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Fuji Heavy Industry, Japan Steel Works, and Komai Tekko jostle foreign players like Vestas, GE and Enercon for a bigger share of the burgeoning Japanese wind equipment market.
With the recent Fukushima crisis spurring a complete rethink of Japan’s energy sector, the world (and India) can hope to see new wind power technologies come out of the Japanese stable. Pertinently, none of Japan’s commercial wind turbines, boasting a combined capacity of more than 2300 MW, failed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, and that spectacularly includes the Kamisu offshore wind farm which fell in the direct path of the giant tsunami.
India is expected to enhance its wind power capacity by a steady 2GW capacity annually. Healthy growth is also expected in Japan. Collaborations between India and Japan aimed at making the most of renewable energy resources could help both nations move closer towards energy sufficiency. For India, this would mean giving more people access to electricity, an amenity millions are presently bereft of. To this end, the nations need to encourage new partnerships and networks, organised exchanges of experience and plans, voluntary public commitments, and technical exchanges through conference, reviews and formal technology transfers. The India Japan Global Partnership Summit, which was held from September 5 to 7, 2011 in Tokyo, presented an ideal opportunity for Indian and Japanese players in the sector to interact one-on-one. This event, supported by the Governments of India and Japan and apex trade bodies in the two nations, was organised by the India Centre Foundation to mark 10 years of the announcement of India-Japan Global Partnership Agreement and pave the way forward for greater cooperation between the two nations. Surely, the right push will propel the wind power industries in both countries to greater heights.
Kishor Jagirdar is a Strategic Change Management Specialist Managing Director of Infopace Management Pvt Ltd and Member- Executive Board of India Japan Global Partnership Summit 2011