- Published: 09 November 2021 09 November 2021
India has been at the forefront of the harnessing of renewable energy from the very beginning, long before climate change concerns began to be voiced. It is the momentum and experience gained in these early years that has enabled the country to launch one of the largest and most intensive renewable energy programmes. Policymakers have announced as much as 450GW of renewable energy capacity by 2026, while it is around 100GW at the moment. Thus we should see more than a quadrupling of renewable energy capacity in the country in the next five years. No doubt there are initial problems to be overcome in pushing such a large programme with regard to land, resources, technology, and many other logistics, financing and related issues.
By Jami Hossain, Vice President and Technical Chair, World Wind Energy Association, India
The financing of wind and solar projects is always an issue and will be an issue in the future. However, there is no doubt that India’s role in renewable energy is far-reaching, not only in India but also in Africa and other developing countries, through its leading role in setting up the International Solar Alliance with many other interested countries.
India has a well-established and well-evolved supply chain for wind turbines with a manufacturing base of around 10GW/year, and the country has its own crop of indigenous wind turbine manufacturers that have multinational corporation status, such as Suzlon, which has been, for almost two decades, introducing game-changing technologies to the market. Traditionally the country, although leading in total installations, has lagged behind some of the other countries in the size of wind turbines. Therefore, while in parts of the world, including Turkey, Europe and the USA, large wind turbines of around 4MW are being set up with ease, in India this market has remained restricted to 2MW platforms. However, this is now rapidly changing with wind turbines of 3MW and 140-metre hub height being offered. A capacity utilisation factor of around 38%-40% is being achieved for such wind turbines.
India, as a subtropical and tropical country, is expected to experience somewhat lower wind speeds compared with countries in the higher latitudes. However, due to two monsoons, a huge coastline (~7,500 kilometres) and the Western Ghats mountain range, many coastal and even landlocked states experience very good wind speeds and the potential to set up wind farms has been assessed at more than 2,000GW (Hossain et al. 2011). The many practical aspects of land availability, land use, land cover, urbanisation and planned and existing grid infrastructure restrict this potential to around 700 GW . There are many other aspects of grid management, its operations and the load demand in each state that have to be considered, as well as the fact that an equally high capacity of solar projects is coming up, which will only peak during the middle of the day. All said and done, and considering all aspects, the short-term target of a combined wind and solar capacity of 450GW is very much realisable.
With the many successful independent power producers that have emerged in the country literally from scratch over the last 10 years, there is a renewed interest from investors worldwide to invest in the Indian renewable energy sector and these investors find it to be a lucrative destination for their funds.
In recent times there has also been much interest in the hydrogen economy, offshore wind farms, and storage systems connected to the grid and the transport systems. A linkage between these three segments creates an interesting proposition for the greening of not only the electricity grid but also the transport sector. New vehicles in hybrid and 100% electric mode are being introduced in the country and already a large number of electric vehicles (cars and buses) ply the streets in urban areas. The government of India has also requested public sector companies such as the National Thermal Power Corporation and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to set their own targets. These companies and many other similar companies have been setting up wind farms over the last decade. With new impetus from the government, they will be trying to reinvent themselves with a green strategy. Offshore wind farm projects are likely to be taken up soon with a lot of ground work having been done so far.
There is no doubt that the next decade for India is going to be a green decade!
The World Wind Energy Association in association with The Energy and Resources Institute is organising an international conference during 24–26 November in a virtual mode. The conference will address many of the aspects and market segments mentioned here and others, and it should herald the beginning of a green decade.
- Hossain, J., Sinha, V., Kishore, V.V.N. 2011. A GIS based assessment of potential for windfarms in India. Renewable Energy 36(12), 3257–3267.
- India’s Wind Potential Atlas at 120m agl. 2019. National Institute of Wind Energy. Chennai. https://niwe.res.in/assets/Docu/India's_Wind_Potential_Atlas_at_120m_agl.pdf