According to reports, for the Tamil Nadu government the answer to the power crisis appears to be blowing in the wind.
Over the weekend, the state’s windmills came to the rescue of Chennaiites who have been reeling under the searing May summer and extended power cuts. Tamil Nadu electricity board (TNEB) relaxed curbs on power supply in most parts of the city on Saturday and Sunday as about 2,800 megawatt (MW) of power was generated through wind energy.
TNEB officials say the average generation of wind power has been on the rise and attributed it to the formation of a cyclone over the Bay of Bengal. Besides, generation of wind usually picks up during this part of the year (from May to September) due to winds that blow from west to east.
“Many of our windmills are powered by the Westerlies which blow from May to September. The strength of these winds has increased in the last two or three days because of cyclone Mahasen over the Bay of Bengal, which is currently 700 metre off the Tamil Nadu coast,” said YEA Raj, deputy director general of meteorology.
He said that the strength of the wind would gradually subside once the cyclonic system dissipates in three or four days.
TNEB officials said another reason that prompted the department to relax the curbs is because power demand during the weekend was relatively lesser. “Power demand usually falls by 1000 MW,” said a senior TNEB official. The official, however, said that the two-hour load shedding had not officially been lifted. “We cannot fully rely on wind as it is an unstable source of power generation,” he added.
According to other officials at TNEB, on an average the state gets a consistent quantum of around 2,500 MW of power from wind energy, with the generation sometimes going up to 3,000 MW. The addition of 1,000 MW through the first unit of Vallur thermal power station has also come to TNEB’s aid.
While most areas in the city may have got a reprieve from scheduled power cuts over the weekend, residents of various localities complained of unscheduled outages through out the week, sometimes for four or five hours at a stretch. “Our scheduled power cut was from 12 to 2 on Saturday, but the power went out for one hour in the morning and later during the day as well. TNEB officials need to answer why certain areas have unscheduled power cuts and certain areas don’t,” said S Manikandan, a resident in Thiruvanmayur. Residents in Taramani, T-Nagar and Perambur, too, voiced similar complaints.
The state has an installed capacity of 7114.61 MW of wind energy. The TNEB has set up 12 sub-stations in three windy regions – Aralvaimozhi pass, Shenkottah pass and Palghat pass – to evacuate wind energy.
The current demand for power across the state is between 12,500 MW and 13,000 MW, while the generation is around 11,000 MW, including generation from wind. The shortfall is around 1,500-2,000 MW.