India’s long coast line and strong winds in certain parts of the country creates an opportunity to develop 48,500 MW of energy through wind turbines. Due to the presence of world class private players in wind turbine manufacturing and investments wind power generation accounts for 75 per cent of the total installed renewable energy capacity. This is the fastest growing sector in renewable energy development as well as offers biggest potential among all other renewable segments. The Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) has set up 1244 monitoring stations across 31 states and Union Territories and has indentified 233 potential sites that can be developed to harness wind power. The wind resource assessment (WRA) shows that Karnataka with a potential of 11,531 MW(As mentioned in the table number 1) is at the top of the chart as far as potential for development is concerned with Gujarat being a close second at 10645 MW. The assessment is done on the assumption that one per cent of the land in every state is available to generate wind energy and each megawatt generation needs 12 ha of land. The C-WET study released a map that suggests large tracts of land in the country that have a potential of 200 w/m2 at a height of 50 metres and above. The assessments on northern region especially the Himalayas indicate that the total potential of wind energy may go up substantially.
Government approved data of C-WET are not the only one suggesting India’s huge potential actually they are the most conservative estimates. Industry bodies like Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association and Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) have far more charitable view about Indian wind energy scenario. The Association claims that taking into account heights above than 50 metres (in the realm of 55-75 m) and the recent efficiencies that have been achieved in turbine operations the wind energy potential in India should be somewhere between 65,000- 70,000 MW. GWEC on the other hand has come out with three different scenarios. One happens to be based on conservative estimates that work on progressions based on World Energy Outlook of 2007 the other, moderate, takes into account all the policy initiatives and plans that are in pipeline and the advanced scenario takes into account that these plans and policies have been implemented in letter and spirit. According to their estimates the most conservative scenario for wind energy development in India says that by 2030 the country would be producing 27,325 MW of wind energy. The moderate and advanced projections say it can be anywhere between 142,219 MW to 241,349 MW respectively.
The eleventh Plan targets to produce 9000 MW of wind electricity by 2012. Already 5,715 MW has been added to the existing capacity. Wind energy development has happened almost exclusively in five states across India. They are Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. Together they account for close to 90 per cent of total installed wind generation capacity. Tamil Nadu is the number one wind producing state in India and produces 4,596 MW of wind energy that accounts for 42 per cent of the total wind energy production in the country. It has also been able to utilise most of its present stated potential. In 2007 wind accounted for 1.45 per cent of India’s total electricity production. Right now the wind energy plant’s efficiency is a source of concern as it lags behind that of most of the developed countries. While the average capacity factor in India is 16.6 per cent in Spain it is 20.7 per cent and in US 23.5 per cent.
The Electricity Act 2003 allows wind turbine manufacturers to provide built-operate-manage plants. The new schemes of generation based incentives (GBI) and renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) have provided a framework for the renewable energy industry in India to grow at a rapid rate. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (CERC) new preferential tariff band for wind energy ranging from Rs. 3.75/kWh to Rs. 5.63 k/Wh along with indirect tax benefits are other incentives for wind energy.
India’s wind energy market is mature and offers a competitive development cost. However, the country is lagging behind in inventions and innovations. As the cost of turbine production is less the average installed cost for a wind power project is $i.1 million per MW in India as compared to $2.1 million in the US. Right now total installed production capacity in India stands at 3000-3500 MW. There are five key companies that have been involved in installation of more than 90 per cent of total wind power plants between 2009-2010. By an estimate India production capacity will increase to 5000 MW by 2015. India’s balance of trade is positive in wind energy equipments with exports pegged at $900 million and imports at $440 million.
Technology development is a source of concern as wind turbine capacity ranges between 250 kW to 2100 kW while the globally the maximum potential is at 5000 kW. Similarly hub height in India varies between 41 to 88 metres compared to global maximum of 117 metres. Even the rotor blade diameters show a major gap in size with Indian rotors ranging between 28-80 metres while globally the largest rotors stand at 126 metres.