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India has the Potential to Emerge as a Hub for Wind Energy Technologies

By Rajabahadur V Arcot and Piyush Dewangan

India’s expanding economy needs more electric power, but the country’s electric power industry is struggling to meet the demand. The industry faces numerous challenges in expanding its generating capacity and transmitting and distributing power efficiently and reliably. Presently, most of the industry’s generating capacity is tied to coal fired power plants, and the country does not have adequate coal reserves. Even to meet the current demand for coal for power generation, India depends on imported coal to the extent of 10 percent. On the transmission and distribution side, the existing infrastructure is inadequate and inefficient. On one hand the transmission losses exceed 30 percent, and on the other, it will require massive investments and take decades to expand the transmission and distribution infrastructure. The electric power industry has to look beyond the conventional centralized power generation model and existing technologies, so that it can quickly ramp up infrastructure to generate more power and make it available to almost 400 million people, who presently live without access to electricity in far-flung places. The solution to the

industry’s problem lies in distributed generation, which extensively uses various types of micro-generators using renewable energy technologies. Power generation from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and others not only help to reduce the demand supply gap for power, but also lead to sustainable economic growth.

Meeting the country’s growth ambitions require not only large generation capacity additions, but also responsible initiatives to reduce green house gas emissions. Therefore, power generation from renewable energy sources is certainly the best possible answer to meet the growing energy needs. Recent industry trends are encouraging and the industry has taken initiatives to expand its capability to generate power from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power. The State on its part is putting in place the policy initiatives and incentives. According to the present projections, the country may generate almost 20,000 MW of power from each of these sources by the beginning of the next decade. Wind generation is the first to take off. Presently, India’s wind energy industry with a total installed capacity of over 12 GW is one among the largest in the world. The potential for electric power through renewable energy is huge in India. Additionally, India has a strong manufacturing base for producing wind turbines for supporting such expansion projects. Domestic companies, such as Suzlon, which is the largest player in the wind energy segment, are emerging as leading suppliers of equipment. Global players, such as Vestas and Gamesa, are also active in

the wind power market. Siemens has recently announced its plans to invest $100 million for setting up production facilities. The main challenge of generating power from renewable energy sources such as wind, is the high capital cost. However, lower operating and maintenance costs offset this disadvantage. As the technology matures and

installations increase, the costs are bound to come down and the supportive ecosystem will evolve. Considerable scope exists for reducing the initial costs through improved design of wind turbines and blades and such others. The emergence of local manufacture of grid tie invertors, wind-turbine generators (WTG) step-up transformers, sensors to detect gear rotation and speed, turbine sensors and control, and such others will result in cost reductions. The growing demand for electric power combined with strong compulsions to take the path of alternative technologies to generate and distribute power efficiently, makes India a hub for wind energy technologies. According to ARC research studies, India is emerging as an important market for automation suppliers. Electric power industry is already a major contributor for the growth of the automation market. The developments taking place in the wind power segment open up yet another new opportunity.

Please send in your views on this topic to pdewangan@arcweb.com or varshag@arcweb.com.