Earlier this month, Panchabuta had talked about how the inadequacy of evacuation infrastructure was posing a problem to the future of wind in Tamil Nadu even though the installed wind power capacity in the state had crossed the 6,000-MW mark, which is about 43 per cent of the capacity available in the entire country.
The nervousness over the bottleneck is palpable in the industry. Although many companies – Techno Electric, Caparo and Tata Power, to name a few – have evinced interest in developing wind farms in Tamil Nadu, the poor evacuation infrastructure is sure to weigh on their minds when they actually put down money, note industry experts.
According to reports, about 50% of the windmills in the state were put off the power grid due to which nearly 20 million units of power was wasted, said K Kasthurirangaian, chairman of the Indian Wind Power Association.
Between August and September, the state relies heavily on wind power to offset the shortage in the state. Ironically, the TNEB put the windmills off the power grid for the last three days stating that the grids could not take the additional power load from the windmills as there was not enough power consumption in the state, he said.
Till two months ago, TNEB was drawing 55 million units per day from the windmills. Even though the wind is strong to generate this amount of power, the TNEB has stopped taking it, Kasthurirangaian said.
“At the same time, the state continues to buy the power from outside,” he said. “About 28 million units of power was bought from outside over the last few days, while utilizing only 35 to 38 million units of power from the windmills.” He added.
“The government is spending a huge amount of money buying power from outside the sate when they could have utilised the energy from the windmills,” said a windmill owner.
He said many of the windmills in Theni and Dharmapuri have been taken off the grid and as TNEB had no facility to store the additional power.
“The state requires about 220 million units of power a day. Off this, 55 million units are produced by windmills. If properly evacuated, the power would help in reducing the power cuts in the state,” he added.
When contacted, a TNEB senior engineer on condition of anonymity said that monsoon rain in the western belt has cooled the atmosphere. “The overall power consumption in the state has reduced and TNEB is finding it difficult to evacuate the existing power from the grid,” he said.
“The windmills were connected on a temporary basis to the power grid. During high wind, the windmills are taken off the grid as we have no way to evacuate excess power. However, the grid is now taking almost 50% of the power generated by windmills as opposed to the stipulated 10% to 15%,” he added.
“The grids can take a maximum of 2,000 to 3,000 MW of power from the windmills, However, it is now taking close to 6,000 MW,” he said adding that this can lead to a grid collapse.