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Refurbished turbines and Repowering charge wind energy market in India

We had first talked about the potential of repowering in India in a detailed post last April.

Repowering of old wind farms is a huge opportunity in India. There are a number of such old wind farms in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu- Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Nagercoil and Kanyakumari districts.

These districts include the famed wind belts of Muppandhal, Pannakudi and Kayathar. There are also opportunities in the Coimbatore district.

There are numerous turbines installed in the state of Tamil Nadu that are older than 15 years and some between 10-15 years. All these turbines are sub megawatt with low hub heights.

Gamesa announced the successful completion of the first phase of the repowering project  in Coimbatore-India at a Wind conference in Chennai last year.

We had then observed that, the repowering potential in our estimates is about 1.5-2GW in India over the next couple of years, though there are a number of challenges that need to be sorted out as development happens.What will be attractive to IPP’s is that some of these wind sites have a cuf potential of at least 31% if not higher. Further, with revised micrositing and better turbines, some sites could offer an additional 20%-30% installed capacity potential in these sites. A few specific Wind focused IPP’s have been in discussion about these opportunities and potentials with Panchbuta.

We further noted, with the successful completion of the first project and with numerous projects under discussion between turbine manufacturers and first generation wind farm owners, repowering seems to be on the verge of a decided take off after a lot of discussion about its potential and opportunities in India.

According to reports, a repowering project may cost Rs 6.5-7 crore per MW. For a new project, it is more in the range of Rs 9 crore or more – depending on existing infrastructure, logistical challenges and how the old turbines are disposed of.

Experts suggest that with economies improving, wind-power generation units may double to generate 220 lakh units a year from the present 104 lakh units. Many global companies are riding the refurbishment wave to aggressively woo India’s windpower market.

According to Gamesa Wind Turbines, the subsidiary of the euro 3.6 billion Gamesa Group, Spain, the repowering trend in India could translate into the sales of over $3.8 billion (Rs 19,000 crore) for repowering companies.

“Progressive investors are keen on playing those ‘depreciation machines’ as economics is very much back on the throne,” said Ramesh Kymal, managing director, Gamesa India

More than 60% of Indian wind farms work with first or second generation bungling turbines that are being upgraded by wind producers such as Suzlon, Vestas, Kenersys and Gamesa. “In our latest projects, the generation capacity has increased by upto 98%. The trend is an overwhelming game changer,” said Kymal. Gamsa India has commissioned two projects, LMW near Coimbatore and Fenner India near Nagercoil.

“At all prime locations, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharshtra and Rajasthan, generators are inefficient. Since each standing windmill is a maintenance headache, fewer machines mean less trouble,” said Chintan Shah, head, Suzlon Energy.

Independent power producers are also flocking in, which is likely to fuel growth. “A number of wind IPPs (independent power producers) are in the process of buying old wind farms at attractive valuations, keeping in mind the land and existing evacuation infrastructure,” said V Raghu, director, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association (IWTMA).

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