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Tata Power Submits Proposal for India’s first offshore Wind farm in Gujarat

Panchabuta in its essay in early May (Offshore wind farm in India…when?)  had wondered about when offshore wind would become a reality in India.

This was the time when the Cape Wind energy project which was  to be built in the federal waters near  upscale peninsula of Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts was approved. The Cape Wind farm is a 468Mw project with about 130 turbines being supplied by Siemens.

A couple of weeks back,  Deepak Gupta, secretary, ministry of new and renewable energy, told a leading news paper that a study is being undertaken with the help of Chennai-based Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) to ascertain the feasibility of setting up wind farms in India’s offshore areas.

The secretary MNRE, had indicated that the study might take about 2-3 years to complete.

The cost of offshore wind farms are typically 2-2.5 times the traditional wind farms and face challenges in terms of technology, implementation as well as environment.

Suzlon has been pushing for offshore wind farms as its subsidiary REpower has a dominant position in the supply of offshore wind turbines.

Mr. Tulsi Tanti, Chairman of the REpower supervisory board, has said: “The offshore market is expected to grow by 42 per cent annually and by 2015, constitute to eight per cent of new global wind power installations, and Europe is clearly leading the way in this development. REpower is a leader in offshore technology and has proven expertise in building offshore wind farms in extremely challenging conditions.”

The company just recently signed a contract with C-Power for Thornton Bank project in biggest ever offshore wind project financing of EUR 900 million.

Tata Power has recently announced plans to  increase Renewable Energy generation to 8000MW by 2017 and invest Rs.5000 Crore in wind to augment generation to around 1000MW from the existing 200MW capacity.

According to this report, renewable energy majors such as Suzlon and Tata Power are exploring the potential of setting up offshore wind farms, a technology platform that is yet to emerge in India.

To back the intentions of these companies, research firms such as Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, and Chennai-based Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) have taken up projects to study the feasibility of offshore wind mills and map potential zones off the Indian coast to set up such projects.

According to the report, Capt S.C. Mathur, Chief Nautical Officer of Gujarat Maritime Board, said, ““We have received a proposal from the Tatas to set up offshore wind farm off Gujarat, as also from a US firm for setting up an underwater turbine at 22 mt depth. While we have suggested alternative locations for the US underwater project as it should not come in the way of movement of cargo-carrying ships, the Tata (offshore) project is being examined.”

According to Mr S.C. Shenoi, INCOIS Director, “For a viable offshore wind power installation, the wind power should be over eight mts per second. We have mapped several potential zones for such projects off the coast of Gujarat, Maharashtra and south of Tamil Nadu. We are in the process of conducting more comprehensive studies to develop a wind atlas off the Indian coast based on wind potential and bathymetry.”

Further according to Mr Harshvardhan Bhatnagar, Vice-President (Offshore Projects Development), Suzlon Infrastructure Services “Although there is potential in India, what we need is a clear policy on offshore wind energy. Once the policy is announced, we will take up the projects”.

It seems like the interest from the industry is much higher and once the policy is clearly defined there might be a lot of rapid activity in this area. This is because technology is already available and though projects would cost about 2-2.5 times that of regular wind farms, they could leverage on scale and technology to improve financial returns.

Further most importantly, this would remove the issue of land acquisition which is a key area of concern for any project in India. Land has been a formidable challenge that is being faced by a number of IPP Wind Power Developers and newer turbine makers entering India. However wind projects have not faced any incidents so far except for the one recent incident that Suzlon faced in the state of Kerala.

Panchabuta, will cover the developments in this area and as always track the progress of the same from post announcement to actual implementation.

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