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Wind power business in India – Overall scenario

According to reports, India’s potential for harnessing wind energy ranks it 5th in the world. But popularizing it at the mass level is the challenge. India’s diversity comes out best above all in its diet. Where meat is daily staple diet in one belt, its protein benefits are replaced by soya in another. So while several wind farm owners in Tamil Nadu are putting their windmills on the block, a private firm is setting up a wind farm in Belgaum that will generate 13MW of power and tap into the 216MW of wind power the area generates. While palate choices are regional, so are wind power resources and conditions and drive the change in the two scenarios above.

Exhaustive wind resource assessment has been carried out in 729 stations spread across various parts of the country. And what were the findings? Well, the two hundred plus Wind Monitoring stations have indicated wind power density of 200 W/m² or more at 50 m above ground level. The estimated potential is around 49130 MW at 50 m above ground level and 102788 MW at 80 m above ground level. Since Tamil Nadu has been designated the windiest Indian state, wind farming has become a catchy phrase in recent years. Wind farms with turbines to generate wind energy have come up across the state as well as in other wind heavy zones like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal. While the understanding of using wind energy and its benefits is yet to catch on in a big way, what has brought a smile to the population of these states is employment; majority of the installed capacity belongs to the private sector. It has also paved the way for wind turbine manufacturers as well as a large number of agencies which supply components, spares, accessories and to provide services like erection, operation and maintenance, civil & electrical construction, consultancy etc.  Add to this the fact that the Central Ministry and several State Nodal Agencies have been encouraging this growth through supportive policies and financial incentives, and the future inspires confidence.

Every year India adds something between 2,500 to 3,000 MW of wind mill capacity on the ground. Business sense of that is being made at an equally energetic pace.  It is learnt that the Government of India will provide an incentive of 50 paise per kWhr of electricity generated by wind projects registered under the scheme. The incentive will stop once the payout reaches Rs 1 crore per MW of capacity. The Finance Minister’s announcement to reintroduce ‘generation-based incentive’ for wind energy projects is a welcome move for the industry. Also the announcement to provide low interest bearing funds from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) is a good initiative. The scheme, which is for 5 years, will boost investment in the sector and we will see more renewable projects in coming period. Consumers too would be benefited thanks to low cost of finance. This clubbed with the fact that Global Venture Capital (VC) funding in the wind sector reached USD 17 million in the second quarter last year.

Today, India has 29 wind turbine manufacturers. Even though 90 per cent of the sales are with the top six of them, a solid manufacturing base exists today.

But in all of this, there has also been a community that has been keeping active watch on the norms and making using one of nature’s gifts in productive manner does not in turn negatively affect another. Environmental activists and experts have said that “green norms” are needed to regulate the country’s wind energy projects as India’s wind power capacity is expected to double by 2017.

A pleasant breeze should follow the fact that we’ve come a long way from when the first wind turbine was set up about two decades back.  A well clicked picture of multiple wind turbines in good light is a heart-warming capture, but it’s when regular homes start powering themselves through them, that a connect would be made. That would spell out in educating a whole lot of people in ‘wind friendly’ areas to on micro turbines and their ability to run homes with independent electricity.

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