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India may auction offshore wind farms

According to reports, the government has initiated the process of putting in place a policy to auction, or award,  offshore wind farms in a way that could be similar to the auction of oil and gas blocks. The ministry of new and  renewable energy has constituted an  inter-ministerial panel of secretaries, which also includes heads of pertinent organizations such as Coast Guards, to frame policy guidelines, approve and oversee execution projects and identify private or public sector partners.

The panel is using the petroleum ministry’s  exploration block auctions as a model. Sources said it was too early to say whether sites would be auctioned or allotted. They added the ministry’s move has been sparked by “a slew of requests from various quarters for allocation of sites” . Indian companies’ appetites have been whetted due to financial incentives that make wind farms an attractive way to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standards, under which it’s mandatory to source a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources.

A feasibility study conducted in collaboration with Scottish Development International, a Scotland government initiative to push commerce and trade, identified Kerala, Karnataka and the hills of Goa as potential sites.

It showed Gujarat coastal areas as having reasonable potential too, but prone to severe cyclonic conditions. Wind farms cannot work in wind speeds of less than 8 kmph or over 55 kmph. At present, India has an installed wind power capacity of 13,066MW. The ministry’s strategy paper for 2011-17 pegs the potential for generating power from wind farms at 48,500MW. It has set a target of increasing the contribution of renewable energy to the country’s total energy mix to 6% by 2022, with about 10% contribution to the total electricity mix.

The International Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association estimates 65GW of wind power could be installed in India by 2020 and the capacity could reach 160GW by 2030. Wind power costs between Rs 3.50 and Rs 4 per unit against Rs 2.50 a unit for electricity from coal-fired plants. In case of wind farms connected to the grid, the power is made affordable by pooling them with normal supplies.

ONGC has identified one location each at Bombay High South and Tapti basin near Surat for setting up wind farms on its abandoned and unmanned oil and gas pumping platforms.

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