India’s Wind Power Potential Has Room for Growth

Wind energy is an economically viable option to meet the needs of people in India, and as of December the country has an installed capacity of over 3000 MW, which is a 36 percent increase in wind energy production for the year. With this increase wind energy accounts for approximately three percent of the overall installed capacity in the power sector.

Even with the growth, India has struggled to hold its place as a leading country in wind energy development. In 1995 the country had the second largest wind generating operations in the world. Growth in the United States and Europe seemed to quickly overtake the country’s potential, however, and India is now the fifth largest wind energy generator in the world. Land-based wind energy potential is 65,000 MW, according to the Indian Wind Energy Association (InWEA), and existing wind power projects have already fed about 14 billion units of electricity to various state grids. India now has indigenous wind-energy equipment manufacturing capacity in excess of 1000 MW annually. Wind technology in the country has evolved significantly over the years, and the predominant machine size in the market has increased from 55 kW in 1985 to 1 MW in 2004. Increasing recognition of the potential of the sector has led to the identification of more than 200 sites suitable for harnessing wind power, with winds speeds having been measured at nearly 600 sites in the country Dr. Ajay Mathur, who is a member of the Governing Council of InWEA, said that the Indian wind energy sector has emerged as one of the fastest growing alternative energy options in the country. But the sector requires continued support from the government in the short term. “The process is already on with various incentives, accelerated depreciation, preferential tariff and wheeling and banking arrangements,” Mathur said. “The progress in power sector reforms and implementation of the ‘Electricity Act 2003’ are all steps in this direction, but further streamlining and review of the existing support from the government is required.” Wind power is a particularly viable option for India because projects move quickly from the planning stage to the energy production stage. Once a wind farm is established it is also easy to expand on by adding more turbines, which are usually manufactured with modular designs. Wind energy is a significant source of power in many parts of the world, Mathur said, and is viewed as being capable of supplying 10 percent of the world’s electricity within two decades. As the cheapest source of electricity in the long run with least environmental impact, wind energy can contribute positively to the national energy security of India. “At InWEA, we are in the process of talking to all the concerned parties and developing a consensus on what certain recommendations to the government could be, that would not only encourage and facilitate further growth of the sector, it would also make it more attractive to serious players who may be interested in generating electricity from wind farms” he said.

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