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Government banks on taller towers to expand wind energy scope

FE Bureau
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The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) is coming with a new wind potential map which would assess power generation capacities from taller towers. Currently, the country's wind energy potential is benchmarked considering 'hub height' of 100 metres.

The new map would account for electricity generation from 120 meter high wind plants, which is expected to broaden the scope of installing these units, Bhanu Pratap Yadav, joint secretary, MNRE, said at CII's wind power conclave in New Delhi. Currently, with the 100 metre hub height, it is economically viable to set up wind power plants only in certain parts of western and southern India.

According to MNRE's National Institute of Wind Energy, the potential wind power capacity at 100 metre hub height in 302 giga-watt (GW), with 153 GW in waste land, 145 GW in cultivable land and the remaining in forest land. With 120 metre hub heights, the feasibility dynamics may change, providing a much needed boost to the sector from the current slump. Capacity addition of wind power units has recently slowed down with 1,480 MW getting installed in the FY19 (vs 1,865 MW in FY18 and 5,502 MW in FY17).

Yadav also asked CII to identify areas where industrial electricity tariffs are very high so that such businesses may mull the option of sourcing power from offshore wind plants. MNRE is currently addressing the doubts related to offshore wind projects raised by the ministries of finance and defence. Offshore wind tariffs are seen to be very high as developers would have to install large wind power turbines in open seas and build the transmission infrastructure to on-shore substations.

The government has announced the target of having 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. In the short-term, the aim is to have 5 GW of such power plants by 2022. In April last year, the government had invited expression of interest for the development of the country's maiden commercial offshore wind farm, and had proposed a 400 square kilometre area to set up 1,000 MW of wind capacity near the Pipavav port at the gulf of Khambhat off Gujarat coast.