According to reports, various speakers at the event engaged themselves with the question of what needs to be done to develop the wind power sector in the country.
Speaking on ‘Wind Energy: Making a good story great’, the experts came up with three distinct suggestions – re-powering, improvements in technology and forecasting.
Mr K.V. Sajay, Head – Sales and Marketing, Gamesa India, said that in Tamil Nadu, there are 1,000 MW worth of wind turbines that were set up between 1986 and 1999. These windmills are standing on prime locations, with the best wind attributes. They, therefore, represent a “1,000 MW opportunity” for re-powering — pulling out the old machines and installing in their place the more efficient, modern turbines.
In re-powering there are no land acquisition or grid connectivity issues, he said. Also, the PLF of the new machines are significantly higher, as is the rate of return of the projects.
However, there are challenges, Mr Sajay said. First, the new machines do not get higher tariffs during the currency of the power purchase agreement.
Therefore, there is no incentive for the existing windmill owners to replace their machines.
Further, the spacing requirements between two machines also pose a constraint. There is also no standard policy to encourage re-powering.
Mr Ravindra Utgikar, Head – Corporate Marketing, Suzlon, said that improvements in turbine manufacturing technology have not made it possible to put up wind farms in places that were earlier dismissed as “low wind sites”.
He said that technology advancements have increased the potential by 50,000 MW. These advancements are in tower, blade and generator.
Today, concrete and hybrid towers have come in, which makes it possible to increase the height of the tower—overcoming the issue of logistics that is there in the conventional steel towers.
Similarly, the blades are also today made of different design and material. There are also ‘split blades’ that can be joined at site, again overcoming the logistics issues in transporting huge blades to remote sites. Likewise, there have also been improvements in gearbox.
Mr C.R. Anbalagan, Business Development Director, 3Tier — which is a German company that specialises in forecasting wind occurrence and solar irradiation — said that the recent CERC guidelines, that makes it mandatory for wind power producers of more than 10 MW capacity, to forecast the generation for the next day — with penal provisions for deviation — are helping the grid stability issues that surround wind power.
He said that short term forecasting is possible with sufficient degree of accuracy.
Dr Gomathinayagam, Executive Director, Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) called for the manufacture of wind turbines specifically designed for Indian conditions.