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Bleak summer ahead: Wind energy on the wane

According to reports, summer is approaching and by the looks of it, wind power may not be of much help this year. Fresh wind power capacity additions in 2013 fell sharply to 101MW compared with about 537MW in 2012, and the numbers are not expected to go up over the coming year.

Wind power, over the last few years, was looked at as a saviour during power cuts in summer, as wind flows and wind power generation increases during summer, just when domestic demand for power goes up. Tamil Nadu has the highest installed capacity for wind power. However, wind power did not help during the power crunch last year because power generated by windmills could not be evacuated. Reason: the Tamil Nadu state electricity utility lacked sufficient transmission lines.

Things are going to be the same this year as well.

“The state is restricting use of wind power, and is going against the norms of the Indian Grid Code by not giving ‘must-run’ status to windmills. Being the state with highest potential and capacity, Tamil Nadu should lead the wind sector, but no investor will look at this state now,” said Shiv Nimbargi, MD & CEO of IDFC-backed Green Infra. Investors who were looking at large capacities in Tamil Nadu have hence been moving to other states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

“Things this year will go from bad to worse. The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) has been given permission to buy 2,100MW of power from outside though wind power is available,” said K Venkatachalam, Chief Advisor, Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association, which owns over 3,000MW of wind capacity in the state.

One of the major reasons why wind power was not used last summer was the lack of transmission lines, but experts say that though new lines are being laid now, they won’t solve the problem.

“There won’t be much interest in Tamil Nadu anytime soon because of transmission issues, and though new transmission lines are being laid, it will cater only to the existing wind machines,” said I Krishna Pillai, MD of Cape Infrastructure, a company which provides land identification, infrastructure development, wind mapping, monitoring and project development for wind farms.

However, while there won’t be an increase in actual wind power generation, activity in the sector could increase, with the central government providing impetus with policy initiatives. “The National Wind Mission is being launched, along the lines of the country’s solar mission. The target is roughly about 8000MW of capacity additions every year, and we have the manufacturing capacity for this,” said Ramesh Kymal, CMD of wind turbine maker Gamesa India, and chairman of Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association (IWTMA). The linking of the southern power grid would also help and the IWTMA is working towards removal of the clause in Tamil Nadu which currently prevents sale of power outside the state through the national grid, he said.

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