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Chakra of wind

According to reports, wind energy is the fastest growing component of renewable energy sector in India, accounting for nearly 70% of the installed capacity, with a cumulative installation of over 14,000 MW.

The demand for power has always been greater than the production in India. In 2009-10, the peak shortage was at 12.7%. Depleting fossil fuels and its rising prices have only made things worst. It now falls on the wind energy sector to bridge the demand-supply gap.

The Eleventh Five-Year Plan incorporates an addition of 9 GW from new wind generation capacity by 2012. With a strong political will and the right policies and regulations in place, the scope of wind power development in India should go much further. More banks and lending institutions are showing interest in funding wind power projects. The sector, with its potential to develop 65 GW of wind power in operation by the next decade, is likely to employ 170,000 people, besides saving 173 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

The sector has grown by leaps and bounds, primarily driven by favourable policies such as the accelerated depreciation, import duty concessions, tax holiday and in the recent years generation-based incentives. The introduction of renewable purchase obligation on distribution companies and trading of renewable energy certificate are right steps to propel the wind power sector to the next level.

India is now a key market for the wind industry, presenting substantial opportunities for both the international and domestic corporations. Wind installations in India are mainly spread across Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan. These locations are favourable for setting up new farms and re-powering existing ones. There is a significant potential for enhancing wind power through re-powering.

Re-powering aims at utilising the existing wind energy resources on a site more efficiently, through technologically advanced and high-performance turbines. A decade-old high wind site can be repowered to generate almost twice the power. This would reap considerably more power from the same site and also save the cost of construction of a new farm.

The regulatory authorities have so far underplayed the potential of these energy sources in India. The under-utilisation of the country’s wind energy potential can be attributed to factors like pricing of renewable energy, inappropriate access to grid, availability of land and development of infrastructure.

Access to grid and ability of the existing grid to accommodate more renewable energy is a major roadblock to growth. It is important to rapidly increase investment in power evacuation and to formulate an exclusive plan to cater for the demands of wind power. Also, the presence of multiple regulatory bodies adds to the complex stakeholder landscape. There is a disconnect between the guidelines & policies prescribed by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and what is being implemented by the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions. It is essential that policies prescribed by the Centre is uniformly implemented across states.

The sector’s growth is also hindered by the lack of trained personnel in wind energy. Government should initiate skill development programmes in this sector. The industry would be glad to support such initiatives. If the issues are timely addressed, the wind energy sector has the potential to gratify the electricity needs of the country.

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