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GE plans to make wind turbine parts in India including blades

As readers of Panchabuta are aware, India had 11,800 MW of wind power installed at the end of March 2010 according to the Indian Wind Energy Association, making it the world’s fifth largest wind power market.

The  installation  in India being range bound  between 1470-1750MW  a year over the last five years and the installed capacity for 2009-10 was around 1565MW. This year the expected capacity is close to around 2200MW according to officials.

According to research by RNCOS, favorable climate conditions and regulatory support paved the way for investors and companies to establish large number of wind power plants, which propelled capacity additions and uplifted wind power outlook in the overall renewable energy market. Considering the current industry trends and futuristic developments, the report further revealed that cumulative installed capacities will advance at a CAGR of 14% during FY 2011-FY 2014.

It is based on these bullish demand projections that a number of manufacturers have announced ambitious expansion plans.

According to recent reports, General Electric (GE) is mulling local manufacturing of wind turbine components that could substantially reduce the cost of equipment for wind energy customers, bring in advanced technology to India as well as create jobs. The firm currently imports complex components such as blades from China; local production would slash cost by 20-30% on certain components – there will be no import duties.

GE currently operates two assembly plants in Pune and Chennai. The firm had recently announced an initial investment of $50 million towards building a multi-product manufacturing facility – this would include the manufacturing of components for wind turbine as well. The wind turbine device comprises large blades, towers, electronic control systems and gearboxes among others. An executive from the firm said that there is a “huge commitment” to growing the wind sector in India from the company’s top leadership.

GE Wind has thus far installed 20 gw plus worldwide while in India, the firm started with installments of 35 mw; it has 135 mw in active orders.

Sanjay Correa, vice-president and managing director of GE’s John F Welch Technology Centre in Bangalore said that India has got a big potential in wind but the products that would sell and be successful in the country won’t be the firm’s standard products. “We got to build them here; they have to operate under local conditions. Beyond assembling, the most exciting part is the production of wind blades,” he noted. Wind blades are the most complex of the components with its aerodynamic shape being critical to its performance. Correa said the firm would bring the blade technology into the country. However, it may either make it in its own plants or with a supplier.

“Composite fan blade is a very techie part, requiring investment on the technical side and in training of the work force. But we have committed to that. To get the right price to consumers, you can’t be importing parts. Local blade production can happen in a two–year timeframe,” he said.   

GE, he added, has a vertically integrated wind team in India. The John F Welch Technology Centre can do all the elements of wind turbine – from electrical engineering to the mechanical side.

This is a very important aspect of wind turbine design that Sanjay Correa is talking about and Panchabuta has often mentioned that the design as to be adapted to the wind regimes in India as they have to operate in Indian conditions.

 This time around GE seems to have a long-term plan for wind turbines India unlike their earlier attempt that was not so successful.

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