Sunday, September 04, 2005

India moves up to 4th slot in wind power capacity- The Economic Times

India moves up to 4th slot in wind power capacity


MUMBAI: With the rising price of fossil fuels and increasing environmental concerns, renewable energy — particularly wind power — seems to be back in favour. Don Quixote may have tilted at them and the oil industry today dismisses them as impractical, but it looks like windmills are here to stay.

Globally, the installed wind-power capacity has crossed 50,000 MW. India figures amongst the countries with the largest wind-generation facilities. In fact, India has now overtaken Denmark to occupy the fourth place in terms of installed wind power capacity. However, there are issues of low load factors.

India ranks after Germany, Spain and the US, up from the fifth spot last year. The total installed wind-generation capacity in India added up to 3,595 MW — about 3% of the total installed generation capacity in India. Over 1,100 MW of this has been added in ’04-05. Tamil Nadu takes the lead with over 2,000 MW of installed capacity. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat also have substantial installations. The major suppliers of wind turbines in India include Suzlon, Vestas and Enercon.

Of the global installed wind power capacity of 50,000 MW, almost 70% is in Europe — Germany, Spain and Denmark. The US is the other large user of wind energy with almost 7,000 MW of installed capacity. China is also considering wind energy as a potential power source.

China had 769 MW of installed wind-power capacity by the end of ‘04, of which almost 200 MW was added during that year itself. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association website mentions that the Chinese Government has set a target of 4,000 MW of wind-generating capacity by ’10 and 20,000 MW by ’20.

The major benefit of wind energy is that it is renewable — unlike fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Secondly, it is a clean energy source so there are no emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other pollutants. The major problem with wind-power is the low load factors of 20-30% and not so great reliability because of unpredictable wind patterns.

Rough calculations suggest that 1,000 MW of wind-power can replace 300 MW of conventional (coal or nuclear) power. Another problem is the amount of land required — there is a 225 MW wind farm at Satara in Maharashtra. The farm is a large strip of land measuring 35 km by 5 km